By Christopher Tobutt
It was a glorious Sunny Cayman morning, and all the captains, flight stewards and dignitaries had come to welcome Captain Rex Miller’s final flight after more than four decades as a Cayman Airways pilot. They had all come because Mr. Miller is equally loved as respected, “A real Pilot’s Pilot,” said former colleague and friend, Kel Thompson. It was a sentiment shared by everyone. There was the customary water-cannon salute from two firetrucks, and then everyone waited patiently for the passengers on the flight from Cayman Brac to disembark. Captain Miller was the last one to walk down the ramp, but before he did so, he stood for a moment and took his captain’s cap off, to honor all those who had come to greet him.
The very first person to shake hands with Captain Miller was the one who gave him his very first job, Mr. Norman Bodden: “I would go to see Mr. Norman Bodden to ask for a job on the ramp during my summer breaks from school and any other school breaks, just to be able to be close to an airplane. Mr. Norman was then the Managing Director of Cayman Airways,” Captain Miller said.
Premier, Hon Wayne Panton was next. The Premier spoke highly of the Captain: “He exuded confidence, and instilled confidence in passengers. People felt he was a very skilled pilot who always operated by the books – by the standards. He was always very quiet and unassuming but a real gentleman at the same time.”
CAL employee Chris McCoy said. “I first met Rex in Little Cayman in 1983. I was a little kid, but I admired this man from then, until now. People admire him and always speak so highly of him, he said, because people feel so comfortable knowing that he is up front there, in charge of the airplane. It’s sad to see him go after all these years.
After working briefly with Mr. Linton Tibbetts’ Red Carpet Airlines on the Britten-Norman Islander in Cayman Brac from September to December 1978, Mr. Miller was hired by Mr. Jim Bodden in January 1979 as First Officer on the DC-6 Cargo at Cayman Airways, at the age of 20. He was promoted to Captain on a 727 in January 1987.
Expressing his feelings after his last flight, Captain Miller said, “It’s hard to explain. This has been my passion for all of my life, but inevitably it had to come to an end at some point. So you mentally prepare for it.” In a prepared statement he said, “I have truly been privileged to have been a part of my National Airline for 47 and a half years overall. And for 42 and a half years as a pilot. I am also honored to know that during my years in the Training Department and as a Captain that I had the privilege of being a mentor to most other young Caymanian Pilots that were hired at Cayman Airways after me. I was also privileged to fly with my brother Jeff as a crew member when he was a First Officer.”