David’s first solo flight - at the age of 82

David Luke from Lanark, with his flying instructor Graham McNally.
David Luke from Lanark, with his flying instructor Graham McNally.

At ages when men are meant to be over the hill, there are two in Clydesdale who seem to be be hardly near the summit yet.

The elder of the two is a Lanark citizen born two years before the first-ever Spitfire flew who has just made his first solo flight at the age of 82.

He is David Luke, of Delves Park, and he took to the air alone a mere couple of decades after most pilots retire.

Since being a lad, when he still remembers seeing wartime aircraft in our skies, David harboured dreams of becoming a pilot, but his life led him down a different professional path.

Now retired and with some spare time, he decided last summer to take up flying training and started a happy association with his trainer Graham McNally at Strathaven Airfield.

A year of training culminated in David making his first solo outing in an Ikarus microlight recently, describing the very, very long-awaited experience as “exceeding all expectations”.

He told the Gazette that his youthful dreams of becoming a pilot had been put to one side as he built a career with the lawnmower manufacturer Atco. He ended up as head of its Scottish operations.

The second of Clydesdale’s Peter Pans is Archie MacDonald, a mere slip of a lad compared to David at 64.

A resident of the Auchlochan retirement village in Lesmahagow, Archie is heading back to school next month to complete his course in a subject that didn’t even exist when he was first a pupil back in the 1950s and 1960s – computing.

Explained an Auchlochan spokeswoman: “After graduating from the Open University with a BSc degree in computer studies in 2015, Archie enrolled on a master’s course with the university last year.

He only has one module left to complete before he will have achieved a postgraduate diploma, and he plans to focus on cybersecurity.

“He will then be well on his way to a master’s degree, with just a research project left to complete.

Archie left school almost 50 years ago at the age of 17 to pursue a career in ICT with Scottish Power. After climbing the career ladder for 30 years, it was only when he began working as a freelancer that he discovered opportunities with the Open University and began studying modules with them.”

Said Archie: “Auchlochan gave me the space, time and supportive community I needed to really concentrate on my studies.”