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Antigua, Barbuda welcomes 34 aircraft annual air rally

Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2016
by bimjim
http://www.caribbeantimes.ag/?p=10426

Antigua and Barbuda welcomes 34 aircraft as part of annual air rally
Joanna Paris
April 20, 2016

Antigua and Barbuda continues to cement its status as the “hub” of the Caribbean.

On Tuesday, the twin island paradise opened its airways to 34 general aviation aircraft as part of the annual International Air Rally.

This is the third time that the rally has chosen the country as a premier stop in its 13 day itinerary.

Ambassador of the rally, Brian Pound, explained that the event began 15 years ago based on similar interest shared by a group of pilots who were also looking for adventure and an innovative way to promote aviation.

Nine years ago, Pound added, the group began exploring countries in the Caribbean.

He proudly said that as a pilot he has personally flown to 14 different islands and have been left in amazement at every visit.

The fleet consists of single engine four passenger aircraft, there are two airplanes that only hold two passengers and there are several twin engine planes that carry up to six passengers.

The aircraft have the capacity to fly at 110 miles per hour and over 300 miles per hour.

Pound indicated that several of the pilots acquired their flying skills from military training and use the rally to maintain and sharpen their talents.

This is the largest rally to date with a total of 34 planes.

“Half of the people in the rally this year have never been a part of the event, so it is really an adventure”, said the excited Pound.

He also suggested that the experience gained through the flight will encourage persons to embark on the journey on their own, since they would have already become familiar with the route.

The Ambassador expressed thanks to the Ministry of Tourism and the Antigua Hotels and Tourists Association (AHTA) for their generous hospitality over the years.

“The Ministry of Tourism here has been fantastic. We have had a great relationship with Antigua. Quite frankly, this is one of our favourite spots on the whole rally”, Pound stated.

AHTA’s Chairman, Neil Forrester, expressed that the group brings a lot of media attention to the twin island state, which will eventually assist in increasing the country’s tourism prospects.

Forrester, who is also passionate about aviation, said that the annual event here in Antigua, is a result of a meeting that he had with organizers in Montreal, Canada almost three years ago.

He noted that there has been a notable increase in arrivals over the years.

“We see it growing year after year. This year we have 80 people. People are finding and discovering the Caribbean and Antigua as a place to fly their planes to. Through the air rallies, general aviation is now about finding out more about this region and we are ideally suited for the event, we have the ground handlers and the fuel”, he said.

He further stated that the persons who fly the aircraft also stay in the hotels and spend their money, therefore contributing to the economy.

Turks and Caicos, Martinique, St. Croix, Tortola and Haiti are among the countries that will be visited during the journey.