Tony fascination with flight started at an air show when he was only 13.
Later in life, he began building and flying radio-controlled planes and during this time met Phil Hooker, a former Air New Zealand pilot who was then the chief flying instructor at the Bay of Plenty Flight Centre.
Phil taught Tony to fly with hand controls and after 50 hours of flight, Tony earned his pilot's license flying a Cessna 172.
On 24 March 1998, he created New Zealand aviation history when he became the first disabled person to fly solo. According to the Civil Aviation Authority, Tony was the first person who had learned to fly from scratch with an existing disability.