Former British Rugby Union player Tony Underwood swapped the muddy field for the cockpit as he now flies A380s across the world for Emirates Airlines. “Professional sport is a young person’s game, and after 27 appearances for my country, I began to realise that my mind would one day start to make promises that my body wouldn’t be able to keep,” smiles the 45-year-old Brit. “In truth, flying wasn’t something I’d thought much about until I sat in the flight deck on a trip to South Africa with the British Lions. I realised that my passion for travel and adventure was fairly well encapsulated in the life of a pilot.” Underwood has been in the UAE for just over a year and can usually be found at the gym, on the golf course, or “belting up and down the Al Qudra cycle track” if not at work. From playing in the Rugby World Cup in 1995 to now being responsible for hundreds of lives thousands of feet up in the sky as one of Emirates’ First Officers, this year he hopes to take further steps to make Captain. “Emerging from a flight simulator after a gruelling assessment every six months is an achievement in itself,” he grins. “What I enjoy about flying is the opportunity to see many places as per the destinations we fly to,” he adds. As Underwood prepares, once again, to reach the top of his professional career, does he any tips for success? “A famous boss once told me that any fool can make things complicated but that it takes a genius to keep things simple. I’ve been amazed at the number of times that’s rung true.”
Mr Underwood wears: Suit, Dhs4,147, by Richard James at Mrporter.com; Shirt, Dhs1,350, by Gucci; Tie, Dhs725, by Alexander McQueen at Saks Fifth Avenue Dubai; Trunk, Dhs31,000, Louis Vuitton.