I am Michael Kiazad, from Iran. I have a wife Sherry (Shofeh) two sons Kohyar, 13, Kamyar, 23, and a daughter Camellia, 11.

Since I have been in Australia I have been working non-stop. I was a pilot in Iran but I didn’t expect to be a pilot here. If I want to work I have to do other jobs, you have to be flexible.

I had a middle class upbringing in Mashaad in Nth East Iran. After high school I went to the defence academy, and in 1974 I went to the US for Navy pilot training. When I returned to Iran the revolution had started. I got a shock, I didn’t know what was happening.

The war against Iraq started in 81, I was carrying troops to the frontline and bringing bodies back. I thought of using a helicopter to escape. I decided to wait until my pregnant wife gave birth. I helped some other pilots to escape, but a crewman reported me and when my son was 15 days old I was arrested and sentenced to death. This was reduced to jail. After 2.5 years I was released, because they were short of pilots, but I never flew for them again.

The regime was very oppressive, and I managed to send my wife and son to Australia on tourist visas. I escaped by walking for a week through the mountains to Turkey, with a group of 8 refugees. Because I was a pilot many countries would have accepted me. I wanted to go to Australia but the Government was not accepting refugees from Iran. It took 14 months to organise my visa.

My wife sent me some money and finally in 1988 I came to Brisbane. I drove a taxi and studied privately for my commercial pilot’s licence. By the time my citizenship was approved I was 34 and too old for the Navy.

A car accident in the taxi injured my shoulder and meant that I couldn’t become a pilot. I opened a baby goods shop, but it was in a bad location and left me with a lot of debt to pay off and put me two years behind. Then I managed a 7/11 store at Wynnum.

My wife and I were both working hard but not getting anywhere, so we sold everything and moved to the Gold Coast for a change.

After a year we realized we were still not moving ahead. Gardening and landscaping came to mind. Something I can do myself.

It has been 4 years now. I am doing this for survival. My dream job was my old job.

I didn’t expect to get my old job straight away but I miss the flying, it is like a bird with the wings cut off.
I am always a happy person, if you are not happy what can you do.

My dream is a healthy life for my children, and my children educated well. I am working hard just for them.