British Virgin Islands

Sunday, Aug 01, 2021

All-BVI deck crew was always a goal — local American Airlines pilot

Following the recent historic achievement of being part of the first-ever all-BVI flight deck crew to fly a United States airline, Captain Kennard de Castro said it was a mission he knew he would always accomplish.

On November 16, 2020, the 51-year-old captain who has been employed by American Airlines for the last 21 years, wrote his name on the BVI’s history pages with co-pilot, First Officer Alvason ‘Lex’ Davies.

Speaking to BVI News in a recent interview, Captain de Castro who has been flying for more than three decades after first gaining his pilot license at the age of 18, spoke on how he was able to achieve the feat.

“I made it my mission from the day he got hired that we were going to fly together and I knew that we would do it. But the difficulty was that Lex was based in New York and I’m based in Miami. But I was finally able to pick up a trip that Lex was on and that was when I took the pictures,” he stated.

He added: “I always hoped to because I’ve known him for over 30 years. Me, him, and Leonard Dawson from East End were all partners on a small airplane to get our experience to get hired. So, it didn’t become possible for us to fly together until 2018, when Lex got hired at American (American Airlines).”

Moving up the ranks

The former Purcell resident who said his father referred to the area as ‘Restville’, also spoke about his journey climbing up the ranks with the major American airline company.

He said: “I’ve flown several different aeroplanes in American; so different aeroplanes have different capabilities. Right now, I fly the Airbus a319, 320 and 321. They’re just different sizes of the same aeroplane.”

“When I first got at American, I flew as a Flight Engineer on the 727. Then I moved up to the wide-body Airbus a300 for eleven years, and then I was on the 757 for five years, on the 757 and 767. I also flew the Triple 7, but only for two weeks and then finally to captain on the Airbus that I’m on now,” he added.

Flown almost every place except Asia

Captain de Castro also revealed that in all his years of flying, the only continent that he has not yet flown to is Asia.

While listing some of the countries he has flown to in his illustrious career, he also spoke to some of his breathtaking moments while in the cockpit.

“I’ve flown lots of places in the US, I’ve flown to Paris, Italy, I’ve flown to London. In terms of South America; Buenos Aires Argentina, lots of places in Brazil; Lima, Peru, breathtaking experiences. I’ve flown over dormant volcanoes which is a beautiful sight. One day when I was flying to Barbados, we actually saw when the volcano in Montserrat erupted, we saw the plume of smoke going up in the sky. That was unfortunate for Montserrat, but it was very interesting to see from the sky,” he stated.

“It’s nice seeing the sun come up when you’re on your way to Europe, and the sun is coming up in front of you…in your eyes. I’ve never seen the Northern Lights, I would love to see that one day. ‘Saint Elmo’s Fire’ is always very interesting in the cockpit, it looks like lightning bolts streaking across your windscreen. That’s always interesting,” he added.

Wanted to be a pilot since age six

The captain said he was destined to become a pilot, a dream the had ever since he was six-years-old.

He said with the support from his family and the mentality to persevere, he was able to make the difficult journey a success by keeping his focus on the ultimate goal of becoming a pilot.

“I always wanted to be a pilot. Everybody back home who knew me, who came to my house, saw the planes hanging from the ceiling and stuff like that. So, six years old, I wanted to be a pilot. Becoming a pilot is challenging. It takes a lot of perseverance, but it’s absolutely achievable as long as you are motivated to get it done,” de Castro stated.

“I’ve been at American for 21 years, but I’ve had a couple jobs before that. It’s just a journey and it’s a long run instead of a sprint. The career choice when it comes to locals, I think probably only a few people think of this as a career, because they’re not really exposed to it that much in Tortola. I think people aspire to what they’re exposed to,” he further said.

Captain de Castro said he has plans on working to develop locals who aspire to become a pilot.


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