Kingston, Jam, September 26, 2016 – The Jamaica Combined Cadet Force (JCCF) has acquired an airplane from the British Government, which will be used in its student pilot training programme. The Cessna aircraft was procured through the initiative of longstanding JCCF aviation instructor, Lieutenant Colonel Victor Beek, who made the request of former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, during his visit to Jamaica last year. It replaces an airplane, which became inoperable 14 years ago, resulting in the training programme being significantly scaled down.
The aircraft is named the ‘Beek Air’ in honour of the JCCF Lieutenant Colonel, who served as a pilot with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and is a retired member of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), where he was instrumental in the development of that body’s Air Wing. It is in recognition of his contribution in this regard that the senior officer was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, up from Major.
National Security Minister, Hon. Robert Montague, in his address at the ceremony for the aircraft’s commissioning, on Friday, September 23, at the Caribbean Aviation Training Centre at the Tinson Pen Aerodrome in Kingston, hailed Lt. Col. Beek’s foresight in lobbying for the plane. He noted that the JCCF officer “embodies what is good about Jamaica,” and said naming the plane the ‘Beek Air’ would honour the legacy of his service to the JCCF and Jamaica. Mr. Montague informed that State Minister, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., who has responsibility for the JCCF, proposed the promotion of Lt. Col Beek, adding that and when the matter was discussed with senior officers of the JCCF, “there was not one person who gave an objection.”
British High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency, David Fitton, in his remarks, said the aircraft was a fitting testament to the magnitude of Lt. Col. Beek’s outstanding service at home and overseas. He also expressed gratitude to Defence Attaché at the British High Commission, Lt. Col. Patrick Brown, whom he said was instrumental in ensuring the aircraft’s arrival.
Commanding Officer for the JDF Air Wing, Lt. Col. Roderick Williams, who represented Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Antony Anderson, also welcomed the plane’s acquisition. He said it would have “far-reaching” benefits, not only for the JCCF’s cadets, “but also for national and regional defence and security. A revitalized cadet air proficiency programme will increase the attractiveness of the cadet force to our young people and increase the (likelihood) of them becoming productive and successful citizens of our society,” he pointed out.
Lt. Col. Williams said he looked forward to more young cadets being afforded the opportunity of a career in aviation. JCCF Commandant, Colonel Errol Johnson, also expressed gratitude to all the stakeholders who facilitated the aircraft’s acquisition. Arrangements for the new aircraft’s provision were spearheaded by the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence in tandem with the British High Commission in Jamaica.