“I’ve had a pilot licence for 35 years and I’ve had a helicopter license for six years. I really should have done that earlier, because it is fantastic. Although I do still fly my fixed wing, I fly the helicopter ten times more because it’s just so enjoyable, very easy and quick. I can get to the Birmingham training ground from here in 45 minutes.
It takes me two and a half hours in the car.
If I went by plane, although I can take off from here, I’d have to go to Birmingham airport and then get a car. The helicopter is infinitely more practical and more exciting. I use it all the time.
“It’s really horses for courses. I love to drive my Daimler myself, but if I’m going to Birmingham by car I want to be driven in my Rolls by my chauffeur. If I’m going to Birmingham then I’ll want to go in my helicopter. If I’m going to the South of France I’d want to go in my Lear Jet. If I’m just going in the grounds then I’ll go in my 4-wheel drive or my golf buggy.”
Of course, the Regtransfers team was intrigued to learn that David has personal registrations for his helicopter and his aeroplane.
“All the registrations on my planes are ‘GOLD’, so I’ve got GOLD T, GOLD X and GOLD W on those. I’ve got GOLD H and GOLD O on my helicopters. The other one isn’t here at the moment.”
Hang on… Planes – plural? Other helicopter?
“I remember, many years ago, I met a very wealthy guy. A girl and I went over to see him and he picked us up at the airport.
As he was driving us back to his house, the girl asked if she could take a picture of his yacht and he said, ‘Which one?’. I thought it was arrogant, but I still thought, wow! and here I am talking about my other helicopter. I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant.”
The helicopter is clearly David’s favourite way to get about, but owning so many aircraft is not just an extravagant hobby.
As well as offering a range of practical and flexible transport options, they also form part of his business.
“I’ve sold my airline [Gold Air International], just before the recession although I still keep my three planes. That is a business and they’re hired out. It’s like when people own yachts: they use their yacht themselves and they also hire it out to clients.”
What about the personal number plates on his cars?
“Well, my daughters bought D6 OLD for me as a Christmas present. 1 GSP is a company one for Gold Star Publications [the publishing company that Gold used to own]. The oldest one must be GSP 3, which is on the four-wheel drive. That’s got to be 25 years old, I would have thought. Well I’m guessing, but I’ve had it for as long as I can remember. Nearly all of my numbers have been presents but I think I bought that first one about 25 years ago.
“In the early days I thought they were pretentious. I thought that having your own name or your own initials was pretentious, but then I thought it different to have the company initials, and that’s why I had GSP. We also hadGSP 43, so every director in Gold Star Publications would try to get GSP with a 1 or 2 digit number. I ended up with 1 GSP, and I’ve still got GSP 3. Another director has GSP 10. But then, years later, I started to think it was just a bit of fun.
I thought it was fun to have D Gold, to have number plates that reflect who you are. Years ago people would have coats of arms, didn’t they, the gentry, the wealthy, the famous would have their coats of arms. I think, in a way, that’s what we do with our number plates. They’re kind of like coats of arms, family coats of arms, aren’t they?
It just gives you a nice feeling.
“My helicopter has my…both my helicopters [laughs] and all my planes have the Gold name. The one that I liked most was GOLD D that I had on my HS125. If I could get more for my cars I would.”
Other members of the Gold family also have an interest in personal car registrations.
“We do have J Gold for Jacqueline Gold, we have B Gold for my nephew, Bradley Gold. Yeah, B Gold, J Gold, D Gold so that’s quite nice. But there wasn’t a V Gold for Vanessa. If there had been I’d have bought Vanessa that one, but she’s still got 1 VG.
“They were all presents: I bought Jackie’s and Vanessa’s and they bought mine. It’s a fantastic gift. It’s a unique present, and you know, absolutely 100 percent, that they haven’t already got one. If you buy a watch they might already have that watch, if you buy them a car, they might already have that car, but if you buy them a number plate they definitely do not have it. It’s so personal to them.
It makes the present so special. As we’ve already discussed, there was a time when people thought they were pretentious, but that’s now behind us. Personal registrations have become more and more popular. They make fantastic gifts and I think they’re a pleasure to have. It can still be a bit of a status symbol as well.