The skies were Mike Kitching's livelihood for 18 years, working his way up to senior cabin crew member at Air New Zealand.
But when New Zealand was plunged into lockdown last year in March, everything changed.
"I was comfortable in my role as a flight attendant. I have four young children, a wonderful wife, and I thought I was pretty set for that career," he said.
Thousands of Air NZ staff were let go, but being senior crew, Kitching continued flying on a limited schedule for nine months.
"That's where I was struggling the most, the uncertainty. Could I lose my job?"
He finally did in December.
"There were two big exoduses - March and April, and then one in December… It was awful."
He told new Newshub podcast The Pivot he was broken the day he lost his job.
"I wept, I remember walking along the beach with the kids. I was a bit of a shell of myself for a while."
After grieving his job loss, he reached out for help and spoke to a counsellor.
"I didn't have a worry in the world, and then I started to worry about things more than anyone else," he said. "You've got to talk about these things."
It took some time, but Kitching then decided to pour his passion and energy into a new venture.
"Focusing on something was positive."
Now he's quite literally putting his career on ice - pivoting his way into a new business by opening an ice cream shop called Scrunchy Millers on Auckland's North Shore.
"It was a sunglasses shop, and then it was a pop-up shop for some gifts and trinkets. People ask if we're a pop-up shop, and I say 'only if it doesn't work'."
So why ice cream? There's a simple answer.
"The crappy year that it was last year... people just need ice cream."
But he says his labour of love is much more than an ice cream shop.
"It's a little bit of community there. The crux of this business is yes, it's ice cream, but it's a fantastic opportunity to engage with people. They all have a story."