REPORT #553 November 2002

by Ray Auxillou

September 11th, 2001 in the USA and the Trade Towers attack, put a real crimp in USA aviation. Particularly pilot training schools.

One such American moved to Consejo Shores, Corozal, Belize, Central America. Sam Riggs International Agriculture Pilot School has moved from Oklahoma to Consejo Shores, Belize.

Sam Riggs has an airport, about 50 to 200 acres and bought a hotel in the town of Corozal on Chetumal Bay to lodge his foreign trainee pilots coming in to get their Agricultural Spray Training certifications. One country's pain, is another country's gain it looks like?

The plethora and restrictions by the new Homeland Security in the USA, make pilot training establishments strong candidates for bankruptcy. Most are going belly up! Foreign students cannot fill the visa requirements to go to the USA anymore for pilot license upgrading. So, it looks like Sam Riggs lucked out and made the move to Belize at the right time.

In Colombia, the spraying of coca plant crops is hitting new highs. With a new Colombian President and the US Congress waging war on drugs with new financial appropriations; things for the next five years look to be boom times if you are a US certified FAA aircraft mechanic, or an Agriculture spray pilot. The US military cannot do a lot of things in the country of Colombia, or Ecuador, or Peru. But civilian contractors can, on US government contracts. The agriculture spray plane pilots in Colombia working with Contractor DynCorp are mostly old farts and senior citizens. Usually mid fifties to early 60's. They make over a $100,000 US a year and only for six months work, on a 15 day on and 15 day off schedule. They get the occasional bullet hole in the airplane too as part of the day's work. But there are now new helicopter gunships giving them protection. So things are booming for agricultural spray plane pilots in Colombia under DnyCorp US government contracts. But with a bunch of old farts running around spraying coca crops, they don't always see that tree sticking up out of the fields either and what with aging reflexs and less vision acuity, there have been the odd collision between tree and plane. Hopefully Sam Riggs International Agriculture Pilot training school in Belize will start turning out new young spray plane pilots real quick. There is a need and it pays well.

With jumbo jet passenger commercial pilot training businesses also going belly up in the USA; just maybe somebody in the Belize Government has the smarts to go soliciting pilot training SIMULATOR businesses for the International Pilot Training crowd and invite them down here, to set up these pilot training simulators in Belize also? We don't care what country COMMERCIAL JET trainee pilots come from, so long as their foreign exchange is good and they pay in advance.

Hell! Maybe the forty year old dream of an A&P FAA aircraft mechanics Community College 18 month course might even get started by somebody down in Belize. Who knows? Miracles can happen. Though it will probably snow first in Belize. Nobody in the elected politician system we use in Belize has even showed any interest in promoting new businesses like aviation mechanic training college courses in Belize yet.

But yes! Belize just might become a Latin American and perhaps a World Renowned center for International Pilot training, from Jumbo jets to Agriculture Spray planes. We seem to be on the way, DESPITE government and self centered politicians.

Heck, we even have two or three Experimental Homebuilt Aircraft built in Belize now. Will wonders never cease?

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