International Civil Aviation Day is being recognized in Belize as the Department of Civil Aviation held a brief memorial ceremony for pilots who have passed away. The event took place at the Belize City Municipal Airstrip. Ordinarily, the Department of Civil Aviation would hold an award ceremony but this year, they chose to honor their deceased colleagues. Lindsay Garbutt, Director of Civil Aviation spoke about the ceremony this morning.
“Over the last few years we have always given an award to somebody that is special in civil aviation. This year we decided that this year that award would go to the fallen pilots who paved the way and gave their lives in civil aviation. We came here to lay some wreaths in recognition of those pilots and fortunately we had the families represented and they were given an opportunity to say something that they had remembered about these pilots. So, I thought it was a great experience to hear fathers, brothers, mothers and other relatives talk about these people who meant so much to them and who meant so much to aviation in Belize.”
Garbutt says that celebrating the life of these pilots is a part of Belize’s History since they had contributed so much to the civil aviation industry of Belize. Garbutt also spoke about some of the achievements in the department.
“It’s a part of the history of civil aviation in Belize and they played an extremely important role in the development of civil aviation. Our primary goal like we said last week was to start the process of completely renewing and updating all our equipment for air traffic services. The other significant achievement is to bring on more air traffic controllers, to bring on more technical people in our department to spend even more or invest even more in developing the capacity of the people we have working in the Department of Civil Aviation and I think we have been very successful in that.”
Families of the lives celebrated attended the memorial and reminisced on good times. Present was Alma Elis, mother of Nigel Donald Flowers who was a pilot for Maya Island Air. She spoke of how she remembers her son.
“Nigel, when he was three saw the movie Top Gun and then because of everything, and actually it was a gunner pilot he wanted to be but we don’t have that here, that passion was nourished, he grew up to be this humble, wonderful pilot. Nigel attended Lubbock after trying with the Belize Defense Force but because of a medical problem with his eyes they didn’t accept him. He went to Lubbock and did extremely well there. He came back and his passion continued. He loved flying, he loved people but he mostly loved dogs.”
Elis says that the memorial doesn’t give her much comfort because she remembers her son all the time and that she is there to support the others who have lost their loved ones.
“The thing is that I don’t need any relief. I attended the ceremonies just to be along with other mothers or sisters or family members who all lost someone but I remember my son all the time. He’s always in my heart and one day we will be together.”
Pilots that were honored today were, Sir Barry Bowen, Luis Rene Tam, Nigel Flowers, Michael Roe, Kandasamy Murali Duran, Harold Gabourel, Javier Bosch, Dwight Santana, and William Fincher.