Well Grounded on Gate 6 1/2

From a career in the air to an active retirement on the water | photo from Warwick Dunnett | post by Claudia Kelly

Warwick Dunnett of Gate 6 ½ recently retired from his 45–year career as a commercial pilot. He spent his last 22 years as a captain, flying into the Middle East for the largest B747 air cargo company in the world with operations in 65 countries. In addition to dropping off ammunition, razor wire, guard dogs, and supplies to troops for the US Air Mobility Command, a large part of his schedule was transporting freight for DHL, Qantas Airlines and numerous other operators. He would often circumnavigate the globe twice in his 17–day rotations.

A sample assignment for Warwick would be to fly to Anchorage or a base on the East coast as a passenger, and then operate a company aircraft over to Kabul, Afghanistan via a base in Europe. He accumulated over 1,750,000 airline mileage points just on American Airlines. Fun, thrilling and possibly a wee bit dangerous flying into combat zones encountering sand, wind and mortars—but when asked about being scared, he named landing in Anchorage on the snow in an ice storm, after being awake for 18 hours operating from Hong Kong, as being more challenging.

Warwick’s family is from Sydney, but he grew up in Alexandria, Virginia next to an airport, to where he would sneak over to sit in the airplanes. His first “joy” flight was in 1967 and cost $20, of which his parents sponsored half. His first job was as a bush pilot in the Australian outback (aka a Jackaroo pilot), mustering (herding) cattle or horses from the air.

Over the years, he moved up to higher levels of qualifications in fixed wing aircraft, flying passengers for airlines such Ansett in Australia and Malaysian Airlines, and eventually (after a 6–year interruption working on Wall Street as a broker) ended up as a cargo pilot traveling to secret bases (i.e., not shown on a map) to deliver ammunition. The box labels had to be torn off before unloading; they read, “Not from the United States”. The boxes could have contained 150,000 megatons of ammunition for the Kurds—but who is asking when political spokespeople are denying any United States role?

While not in air transit, Warwick interviewed and wrote a successful nonfiction book, Poker Wizards, distributed by Simon and Shuster, which compares the world’s best poker players’ winning theories. He recently competed in Las Vegas in the 10K No Limit main event of the World Series of Poker Buy In, and said that he broke even, so he obviously knows something about that game!

A family tragedy of losing a son to medical malfeasance prompted Warwick and his family to create a positive foundation to educate people about the dark underbelly of the rehabilitation business. According to Warwick, his son was recruited at an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting to an alleged rehab clinic by some very dark, evil people: Warwick calls them body bounty hunters, paid by crooked physicians to refer patients to a medical facility, for which they can get significant insurance reimbursements.

The family was able to get some of these practitioners’ licenses revoked but are still left with holes in their hearts from losing their 20-year-old son to these medical conspirators. In the service of future families struggling with addictions, they created The Subversive Foundation, an organization which helps kids produce rap and hip hop with a positive message.

The foundation also created a second initiative, Too Much RX, where you can compare prescribed drugs which might have contravening effects, and which offers valuable resources for anybody wanting to be in safe drug treatment.

Sadly, Warwick says that his son was incorrectly medicated with eight different drugs for a heroin addiction he didn’t have, but lucrative insurance reimbursements led the physician to diagnose him incorrectly—wow! After a four–year battle, the doctor has finally lost his license and the rehabilitation center has closed down.

In the spirit of helping the less fortunate, Warwick has also formed a foundation for giving out blankets and ponchos to cold homeless people on the street, RedBlanket.org (site still under construction). This foundation’s premise is to involve young people in the community by asking parents to keep rescue kits of 5 blankets and ponchos in their cars—on any random drive you might see a needy recipient. This could be a great educational tool for young people who are not used to encountering actual people living rough on the streets.

Grounded from commercial work due to FAA pilot age limits, he is now writing a book comparing religious and scientific philosophies about the period after earthly consciousness i.e., death: Dance with Angels, Proof, Myths and Mystics.

Today, Warwick enjoys the calm and camaraderie of floating home living.