(CMR) The Cayman Islands has started 2024 with new doors opening up for aviation enthusiasts, with a newly minted Cayman Islands Flying Club officially launched as a not-for-profit business.
The club’s main initiative is to promote and advance General Aviation within the Cayman Islands, “Making flying better in Cayman.” The new club marked the occasion with a series of inaugural events that featured meet and greet socials, a “Fly in” and static aircraft display event, and demonstration flights that were all open to the public.
The series of aviation events was held from Friday, December 8 to Sunday, December 11, 2023, and included pilots from Costa Rica flying three aircraft to Cayman to support the flight club activities. The weekend's high point was the Saturday event at Owen Roberts International Airport, involving aircraft displays, foreign pilots and their aircraft, and discovery flights – with all such flights being free of charge – sponsored by various aviation aficionados.
Three aircraft were used for over a dozen discovery flights. By the end of the day’s flight operations, over 100 persons attended, and 57 persons were able to experience first-hand the thrill and enjoyment of flying in small ‘general aviation’ airplanes. Additionally, four similar aircraft were on static display so that non-flying attendees could take a peek inside them and enjoy them up close.
Participation was diverse. Among the passengers for the day were high school students from Clifton Hunter High School who were all pre-registered to fly, members of the general public of varying backgrounds, and an overseas-based businessman, aviator, and YouTuber with an aviation-focused channel boasting over 81,000 subscribers.
“The sheer number of people who were able to enjoy free flights was great. Especially considering time constraints and intermittent rainy weather,” commented the aviator – Tarik ‘Zawdie’ Kiddoe.
“It was equally remarkable that high safety margins were maintained the entire time. The organizers and airport officials were on the ball,” Kiddoe added.
The Cayman Islands Flying Club Fly said the December event sought to ignite excitement and interest in general aviation and showcase opportunities. In the future, the Club hopes that many of the students and adults will fall in love with aeronautical adventures and pursue getting their own pilot’s license.
The event was also designed as an opportunity to promote the Cayman Islands as a destination and not just as a refueling stop for pilots and aircraft owners. Organizers also sought to facilitate aircraft registration in the Cayman Islands and encourage new generations to consider careers in the aeronautical industry.
“The activity was a success in all the objectives set. The Cayman Islands has a lot to offer as a ‘fly-to’ destination for private aircraft owners and pilots, and we were able to show the destination’s potential and the facilities from an aeronautical perspective to Central American pilots and their families,” Tim Adam, Founder of the Cayman Islands Flying Club and member of the Club’s event organizing committee said.
“It was also very gratifying to be able to open up a space and a dialogue for several young people from public high schools, to engage them in the enjoyment of flying, and to motivate them to think of flying as an opportunity to study and have a career,” Adam added.
Aviator/YouTuber Tarik Kiddoe lauded the new club for putting on the event.
“We should never underestimate the positive inspiration that these activities can have on the youth. The new club did a good job. With the stunning variety of aircraft that pop in and out of Cayman, I would love to see even more aircraft owners getting their planes involved in these club exhibitions whenever they can,” Kiddoe said.
The Cayman Islands Flying Club led the planning, coordination, and execution of this series of activities with the support of local companies and in close collaboration with various government authorities. Partners and sponsors included the Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA), Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands (CAA-CI), the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU), the Public Lands Commission and Secretariat, Island Air, Blue Sky Aviation Cayman, Cayman Private Charters, Enterprise Cayman, Alycorp SEZC, Samson Law, Peripheral, and Cayman Limo.
The Cayman Islands Flying Club has been in the works since the lockdowns of 2020, evolving through the monthly aviation socials on the last Thursday of every month. At these events, aviation enthusiasts meet to learn about aviation activities and to share their experiences in the sky and on the tarmac. The next Flying Club social is planned for February.