By Christopher Tobutt
The Cayman Islands Air Show is back after 20 year, and thousands came to see the spectacle at Seven Mile Beach on Saturday 3 December. There was a fantastic display of aircraft from superfast fighter jets to big flying boats. Like the very first flying boat that touched down in the North Sound 70 years ago, linking the Land Which Time Forgot with the modern world and beginning a new age for the Cayman Islands.
During a big reception the previous day at the runway and adjacent Cayman Airways Hangar, all the airplanes of all shapes and sizes, as well as several helicopters were there for people to see. There were small, propeller driven airplanes nest to huge military aircraft that looked like giant grey moths. Among the aircraft on the runway were two big military aircraft from the U.S. Airforce who had flown all the way over, especially for the airshow. The commander of one of the planes, Forrest Hintz, was showing people around. “We’re here with the Hurricane Hunters. We’re based in Biloxi Mississippi. In the back we have a weather officer station and it is equipped to drop weather instruments from a tube in the back.” Another plane, from the Royal Air Force was even bigger, and had been involved in humanitarian relief and rescue operations, including getting people out of Afghanistan.
Kevin Engels, a skydiver with Team Fastracks based in Middleton Ohio was there with the rest of the team. He wasn’t nervous about the amazing displays they were going to do at Seven Mile Beach.
H.E the Governor, Martyn Roper said: “It really is wonderful when you arrive to see all these aircraft here today and I hope this is the start of something that gets bigger and bigger each year and becomes an important feature of our calendar, particularly for tourism, helping to get more visitors coming to see this brilliant air show every year. Last night I had the pleasure of hosting our pilots, crew and some of our performers for a wonderful reception at Government House, and I want to say a huge thank you to all of them for coming to Cayman to take part in this air show. want to thank the Deputy Premier and the Government for getting behind this idea to bring back the air show. Alistair Robertson has been really incredible, too, behind-the-scenes”
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Kenneth Bryan said, “Welcome to the rebirth of our annual air show. I am particularly pleased to welcome all the visiting guest, visiting performers, and pilots and aviation experts to the Cayman Islands. When the idea was proposed for the Cayman Islands to put on another airshow I immediately thought back and said, ‘of course, we’ve got to support this.
“I also remember when I was younger, when they had the airshow back in 2000, seeing the planes flying over the beach, doing the mindboggling stunts, which really blew my mind as a young man, it was really memorable. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be standing up here talking to a host of Guests as the Minister of Tourism, with a new air show starting tomorrow, to make new memories for other people and their families and with my kids and my family.
“As many of you know, the airshow’s activities taking place this weekend coincides with the 70th Anniversary of the first commercial aircraft, the Amphibious BBY Catalina, landing at the Owen Roberts International Airport. Ms. Shirley Ann Tibbets, the wife of the Honourable Kirke Tibbetts, was a passenger on that plane, and I believe she was just two weeks old.”