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Doug logs last entry

Doug Yarrall in the Vampire jet on his last flight on January 31 this year. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

OBITUARY: Doug Yarrall 25/05/32 – 12/05/2021

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Doug Yarrall

When Doug Yarrall died last week at age 88, he left behind a legacy of achievement in his two great passions: flying and family.

Born in May 1932, Doug began flying in 1958 after his brother-in-law, returned from World War II, introduced him to the joys of aviation.

His flight log shows he took to the skies on his first solo flight after little more than three hours of instruction.

Doug was a hard-working businessman and for him flying was an escape from the pressures of the business world.

By the age of 21, he had established his first business and not long after he bought a removal company he would turn into NZ Van Lines, a company that operates today.

In the early 1960s, Doug discovered gliding.

He would achieve much in this field, setting a world record for flying a wooden glider over Wairarapa at an altitude of more than 11,000 metres.

The record has never been beaten in New Zealand.

Fellow pilot Mike Eastwood says Doug left a “staggering” legacy at Hood Aerodrome, where he was a flight instructor of great patience and renown.

When Wairarapa Aero Club bought its latest aircraft in 2020, it honoured Doug’s huge contribution by registering the plane as DOY [Douglas Owen Yarrall].

Doug’s wife Thelma Whiston fondly remembers him as “a giant of a man, but very, very modest”.

They first met in 1958, and although they kept in touch sporadically over the years, their love did not come to fruition until more than 50 years later.

Doug also leaves behind a different kind of legacy in his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and the rest of the extended family.

In the end, flying was a love that never left him.

Doug logged the last entry in his flight log in January this year.

Always one to push boundaries and try new things, it was the first time Doug had flown a jet in his entire aviation career.

He was honoured and excited by the experience, after which Thelma says he did not sleep for two days.

Doug’s life was celebrated in a private memorial service on Saturday.

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