Love in the air: Tale of a high flying clandestine romance

Guy Clapshaw and his wife have recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

82-year old Guy, a former Air New Zealand pilot, and well-known aviation author met his wife Colleen when she was employed by the airline as a flight attendant.

Back in 1969, Guy was an Air New Zealand DC-8 co-pilot and Colleen Simkin (as she was then) was a stewardess, both based in Los Angeles, California for two years. Air NZ regarded their young stewardesses as ambassadors to our country, they were handpicked to represent New Zealand,  enjoying a status somewhere between film stars and fashion models, and male aircrew were forbidden to socialise with them off duty!

Guy and Colleen often flew together, spending several days every month in Tahiti or Honolulu, and Guy fell under Colleen’s spell. They began a secret romance, in contravention of company regulations, never being seen in public together. They even sat apart on the crew bus or when dining with other crew members on night stops to avoid suspicion.

Guy and his wife Colleen (insets) during their Air NZ tenure. Photo supplied

Based in Los Angeles in 1965, they played a game of cloak and dagger when confronted by the exacting moral standards of the time. An air hostess dating a captain would have ended in instant dismissal, but as their two-year overseas assignment was about to end, so the lovebirds threw caution to the wind and announced they were getting married at the end of the contract.

50 years, and two grown-up sons later, the couple is flying to Tahiti to celebrate their golden anniversary, and plan for the next 50!