A young Guyanese has piloted a Cessna Sky Lane plane from Northern Florida to Guyana in approximately six days.
The young pilot said that his family bought the single engine aircraft and at just 22 years old, he decided to fly solo from the United States to Guyana. He described the flight as, “Quite an experience”.
Ricaldo Billy started his flight training in Guyana at the Air Services Flight School the very next week after he completed his high school education at Maes Secondary School. He later migrated and completed his flight training in the United States at Epic Flight Academy. Billy graduated in 2015 as a commercial pilot and is currently employed with a local air service in Guyana.
Billy recalls that he was just five years old when he knew exactly what he wanted to be.
“My grandma asked me what I wanted to be and I said an aeroplane driver, I had no idea it was called being a pilot”.
“I can remember I always wanted Lego Blocks when I was little to build little aeroplanes; I knew I wanted to fly and I maintained that dream all my life. I worked very hard for my licence and rating”.
At the age of 20 he earned his wings as a commercial pilot. “Aviation has been my life since I was little, I even got my pilot’s licence before my driver’s licence”, he said.
Billy says that his family has always been very supportive of his dreams, “especially my mother and grandfather”.
With no idea what would be ahead, Billy embarked on a life changing experience of flying solo for the first time.
His first stop was in Nassau, where he refuelled and continued unto Turks and Caicos. On this island he said that he saw the most beautiful and popular beaches in the world.
After spending the night in Turks and Caicos the young pilot then journeyed to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. The most memorable thing about this stop, he recalled was the food and the very friendly people.
He said the view of the mountain ranges in Punta Cana is incredible.
The young pilot later made stops in Puerto Rico and then St. Kitts and Nevis. He described the cruise ships lined up on the water as an absolutely remarkable sight to see.
Other stops included Martinique, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
He departed St. Vincent and the Grenadines for Grenada late in the evening and was faced with what he described as the most frightening part of his journey, severe weather. He said that he could see the ground and with the small aeroplane being bounced around in the air, he felt really afraid. Billy said that he had to circle the spice island a few times before landing. “It is always good to keep your head on and instruments right when flying in bad weather”, Billy said. He was greatly relieved after landing safely.
He described Grenada like the popular Sunday evening lime on the Georgetown Seawall, the only difference being that persons take their local food, music and dance to the streets.
He would later depart Grenada with the intention of making a final stop in Trinidad but he said that he decided to change his flight plans at the last minute and make it straight home to Guyana. “I calculated I had enough fuel to continue to Guyana and not stop in Trinidad”.
Luckily for him Air Traffic Control amended his flight plans and he made it home safely. Two hours into the flight he was able to see the Guyana shoreline.
Billy said that he was at last finally relieved to see his country after being away from home. He said that when he contacted Air Traffic Control he was very excited to hear the Guyanese accent and knew in that moment that he had made it and thought there was no better feeling than flying into your own country.
It was pretty overwhelming for him to have flown over 2000 miles without any hiccups and that for him was the most confident feeling. It felt like a weight off his shoulders, he said he was really excited to see his mother, sister and father.
“I tried to fly over many Islands as possible; I did not want to risk the chance of flying over water. I flew 3 to 4 hours because I didn’t want to exhaust myself”, Billy said.
His advice to young people out there is to, “study hard and do not give up your dreams, there are always obstacles to overcome and if you work with what you have, you can make the best of anything”.
He said that, aviation requires a lot of discipline and being humble about what you do and safety is the most important and does not start in aviation but starts right now.
“Flying is not just a job it has to be something that you love and it has to be within you”.
“It is a good feeling to know that I can do this, and hopefully I get to do it again soon”, he said.
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