A RETIRED former head of GKN Westland Aerospace, who gained an OBE for his services to the aerospace industry, Christopher Clark Gustar, has died, aged 71, at Earl Mountbatten Hospice following a short illness.
Mr Gustar, who headed one of the Island’s major employers, enjoyed a meteoric rise in the Westland empire having learned the business from the ground up.
He held the positions of chief executive and managing director of GKN Westland Aerospace, which included international aerospace corporations in the United States and Europe.
Born in Cowes on October 1, 1945 — the eldest of two sons to Albert and Amy Gustar, of Mill Hill Road — he was educated at Cowes Secondary Modern School.
He left school at the age of 16 to embark on a career as a metal worker and machining engineer apprentice, at Saunders Roe, East Cowes.
One of the company’s longest-serving employees, Mr Gustar held a number of positions at the experimental and electronics laboratories for about 20 years before he rose to the position of its managing director in 1984.
With the major restructuring of the Westland Group in 1985, he was appointed chief executive of the newly formed Westland Aerospace, with the task of refocusing East Cowes from hovercraft to composite aerostructures.
Succeeding in this he saved Cowes sites from potential closure.

In 1993, Mr Gustar was appointed to the Westland Group board — in the following year Westland was purchased by GKN Aerospace.
Until his retirement in 2002, Mr Gustar was the driving force behind the company’s growth and helped to more than double its business — both through marketing of composite aerostructures and technology.
Notably, he won major contracts for aerostructures in the USA, Canada and Europe, instigated the upgarde of composite facilities at East?Cowes and led acquisition projects in the UK and internationally.
Mr Gustar was awarded the OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list in 1996.
He married Valerie Staples at the IW Register Office in December 1982.
Mr Gustar, of Main Road, Wellow, was a member of The Island Sailing Club and The Royal Automobile Club and enjoyed photography, painting and gardening.
His funeral was held at the IW Crematorium, Whipping-ham, on September 25.
He leaves his wife, children Matthew and Nicole and brother, Robert.