Dudley Beek remains committed to flying

BY RENAE DIXON Sunday Observer staff reporter

Sunday, April 27, 2014    

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BOSCOBEL, St Mary — At 90 years old, his father Victor Beek, the first commanding officer of the Jamaica Defence Force air wing, still flies an aircraft. So it is no wonder that Dudley Beek, who is a pilot himself, is so excited about the profession.

Beek said that there are at least four generations of pilots in his family, starting out with his grandfather, then his father before he took up the mantle over 40 years ago. His sons too have entered the field and Beek expects that his grandchildren will soon learn the art of navigating across the skies as well.

This he is ensuring as he now works on reconstructing the oldest aircraft in the Jamaican Registry, the Cessna 140. The aeroplane, which first came to Jamaica in 1949 has carried people like Eli Matalon and Michael Manley, Beek said. The plane was then owned by his father, and Beek intends to preserve its history and to ensure that his grandchildren learn to fly in the very plane that he and his sons once flew.

Beek said that the plane was passed down to him from his father and he intends to pass it to his sons so that his grandchildren will learn to fly in it.

"As part of the restoration, my grandchildren will learn to fly on it," he said.

Beek, who was at the National Stadium when Jamaica gained Independence in 1962 said he intends to make the plane the exact way it was when Jamaica achieved the milestone.

"This aeroplane will be in as good or better condition than it left the factory," he said.

Beek said that he redid the aircraft years ago and finds pleasure in again reconstructing it.

Beek, who lives in St Mary, said that he came to the parish in the 1970s to spray bananas, fell in love with the area and has been living there since. While living in the parish known for its banana production, Beek has made it his priority to continue serving the aviation industry. The former Jamaica Defence Force officer operates the DustAir Limited at the Ian Fleming International Airport at Boscobel, St Mary.

The man who is also an engineer, received his pilot's licence in the 1960s, and takes pleasure in working on aircraft.

He said that he built his first hangar at the Ian Flemming airport in the 1970s, long before it was so called, or before it was turned into an international airport. Since then, he has been offering maintenance service both locally and internationally.

Beek, who was trained by three major international air forces, said that flying and working on aeroplanes was something that he thoroughly loves.

"I enjoy it. Coming to work is a pleasure," he commented.

"I love aviation, flying, fixing, and plotting how to make it better," he went on.

Beek said that the sense of family and history motivates him to continue serving the industry that he passionately committed to.

The dedicated pilot and engineer said that he has considered farming while in St Mary, but deals to acquire farms continuously fell through. When the third attempt failed, he took it as an indication that it is not to be, and has since stuck to what he does best - working with aeroplanes. Since then he has been wholly and solely committed to aviation, not only as a job, but for him it is about having fun.

Beek said that he not only knows how to fly or fix planes, but the man whose grandfather and father flew in World War I and WWII respectively is aware of the aviation history of Jamaica. Looking back over the years and with the development that has taken place in Jamaica, Beek said that the Jamaican aviation industry has the potential to expand but that "Jamaica needs to realise that we are in globalisation."

For now, Beek maintains that aeroplanes going in and out of the Ian Fleming Airport can be serviced at the facility to the highest quality and will continue to do what he can to develop the aviation industry in the north eastern section of the island.





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