Few people have the good fortune or talent to have more than one successful career, however we know of footballers who have become TV presenters, supermodels who have become authors and an actor and game show host who have become presidents of the USA. We also have the privilege to know one of the greatest cricketers ever to lift a bat for Sri Lanka, who has also had a distinguished 45 year career as an airline pilot – Capt. Sunil Wettimuny.
The highlights of Sunil’s cricketing career were the world cups in 1975 and 1979 held in U.K. in which he was the star batsman of the Sri Lanka national team. He had been playing top class cricket since the late 1960s and had been captain of both the Ceylon under 25 team and the Sinhalese Sports Club (the most successful cricket club in the country). His achievements were all the more remarkable as for 11 of the years he played international cricket he had also embarked upon a career as an airline pilot.
Sunil began flying professionally in 1971 with Air Ceylon / Air Lanka and progressed to become Captain / TRI / TRE and Chief Pilot with Sri Lankan Airways with whom he operated until 2005. This was a period of great change in Sri Lankan aviation, during which time the company expanded, phased out its Tristar fleet and introduced the A-330 and 340s. Sunil flew and instructed on all types. One of the highlights of his time there and proudest moments was in 1996 when he flew the victorious Sri Lankan world cup cricket team home from Pakistan to Colombo.
Since leaving Sri Lankan Airways, Sunil has worked internationally as instructor and examiner. In total he has flown for 10 international airlines, six as TRI/TRE, mostly on Airbus A340/330/320, and notably with Qatar Airways, Jet Airways, Mihin Lanka and Lao Airlines. At Jet Airways, as Fleet Manager and TRI/TRE he organised all training for the A-340 and 330 and made the first acceptance flight for the 330. He acted as Chief Pilot, Training and Standards for Mihin Lanka and oversaw all training in Lao Airlines as well as acting as adviser to the Lao DCA.
Sunil is now an instructor for ST Aerospace in Singapore. He retains great enthusiasm for the profession which he has served with distinction for so many years. A true legend of aviation and sport.