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#469974 - 08/11/13 05:32 AM Flying High on Caye Caulker!!  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,823
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

IMG_4155 IMG_4160

For over 6 months now Caye Caulker and our surrounding waters have been aware of Belize’s first ultra light plane as on calm afternoons we cannot but help notice it buzzing around our island, seemingly just above our heads!! †The plane is amphibious ie can move on water and in the air (oh very James Bond I hear you cry) and indeed it has become quite a spectacle for us locals.

The plane’s owner and Captain is Walter Martin, a resident here in Caye Caulker, who moved here with his wife Christine (both of Bavarian decent) from Canada. †Walter, a self proclaimed Bush Man, found his small heaven here in Caye Caulker where the warmth of the sun and the simplicity of life can be combined in one sweet spot – Caye Caulker. †Walter has been flying for over 7 years has been through loop holes in order to obtain the correct licenses/ insurances in order to make his flying here very much above board, at this stage is merely enjoying his hobby/ passion at a ‘Go Slow’ pace.

IMG_3858†† IMG_4072-001

Walter had extended the invitation to join him on one of his ‘runs’ sometime ago but sheer terror ensured that I neatly avoided the question. †It was when our own Ragga Empress set off sailing down the reef and Walter stumbled upon her and her sheer beauty from the air brought the question up again, this time to take pictures of our newest addition.


So yesterday morning, at Ragga Empress left her Caye Caulker dock and the weather conditions were perfect I was strapped in, headphones on and de-robed of anything that could ‘fly off’ me and off we went. †Please understand,as the engine roared my heart missed a beat, adrenaline was pumping and I was so excited I almost peed my pants!!!! †What if I fell out of the aircraft, what if the engine failed – all of this went running through my head!

Once in the air, all my fears dispelled as the wind whipped through my hair and the beauty of the the island and the ocean lay in front of me. † I was immediately taken back with what is very much familiar surroundings ie my home, my island, looking totally different. †It is truly fascinating to see how roads interlock, seeing friends houses and the shape of their properties clearly and without obstruction from other buildings. †It is wonderful to see our ocean filled with so many stingrays, eagle rays, manatees and dolphins – we have one huge aquarium on our doorstep and surprisingly you can see it so much clearer from the air!!


It was indeed a spiritual experience, where one could meditate as you watch the world beneath you. †It is so very humbling to look at the world this way as you feel so very small as you look at a vast expanse of territory. †Walter commented ‘I don’t do drugs or even drink much alcohol, this is my drug, this is where I come to escape’ – and I totally understood what he meant and I share his enthusiasm – I just now need to learn to fly a plane!!???!!!

In my few hours that I was gone I am happy to say that I have a collection of wonderful photos as a keep sake – I would like to share a number of them with you so that you can start to imagine what an amazing experience my ultra light flight was. †Thank you Walter – anytime you need a wing man/ woman – I will be there!!!!

Raggamuffin Tours

#469978 - 08/11/13 05:39 AM Re: Flying High on Caye Caulker!! [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 5,949
Diane Campbell Offline
Diane Campbell  Offline
I hope this one is not as noisy as the last batch. They would buzz the reef to the point where fishermen and snorkelers would pack up and leave. Hopefully good manners will prevail ------

#469997 - 08/11/13 10:37 AM Re: Flying High on Caye Caulker!! [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Aug 2013
Posts: 6
Airman Offline
Airman  Offline
Hi Diane, I will try and be as environmentally friendly as possible. there are certain air rules and regulation a pilot has to stick to and rest assured I will do that. Also I will try no to "buzz " the reef. I will stay over and above 300'of the water,( except for take off and landings:)and that's actually a very safe height for flying and at that elevation I think I won't scare any fish away. And I can't speak for whoever was doing some flying here before me since I don't know anything about it. I'm open to legit critic anytime and please feel free to tell me if I bother you with my little Ultra Light. all I want to do is have a little fun up in the sky.
When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return. ~Leonardo Da Vinci

#470000 - 08/11/13 12:52 PM Re: Flying High on Caye Caulker!! [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Aug 2013
Posts: 4
BlueOceanParadise Offline
BlueOceanParadise  Offline
Well i've watched the little ultralight fly around not long ago and it has never bothered me or my family. The ocean seemed big enough for everyone that's for sure. The island could use some diversification and this will help bring tourists in which helps everyone. We were there for two weeks and only seen it fly a couple days unfortunately. At all times, the little aircraft has kept a safe distance from everyone and the noise was way less than all the music the locals play at all times of day and night. I've also watched the Air Tropic pilots get closer wink I personally enjoyed watching it so much i had to go on you tube and find out more about it. Would love to try it out someday AirMan smile Looks like the experience of a lifetime!... and we only live once that's for sure.
Hope to see and experience this next time i visit Belize. Amazing!

#470001 - 08/11/13 01:07 PM Re: Flying High on Caye Caulker!! [Re: Marty]  
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 538
Dane Offline
Dane  Offline
It is a little funny that the initial poster called it the first UL in Belize and then Diane posted hoping it would be different from the last bunch of ULs.
This was the passion of McAffee. I helped him look for land to set up an UL base on Caye Caulker.
The first UL I remember was about twenty years ago.That was a very windy year which caused that low powered plane a problem. He finally landed in foot deep water and compromised his airframe.
This discouraged me from bringing mine down.
The most recent crew were those filmmakers from Discovery Channel.

#470002 - 08/11/13 01:35 PM Re: Flying High on Caye Caulker!! [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 259
MikeD Offline
MikeD  Offline
I must say as a certificated pilot the average wind speed on the Caye is in excess of 15MPH, gusty, and a lot for an ultralight to handle. Being amphibious is an advantage allowing landing in any direction, and the wave height inside the reef is usually minimal, eliminating the problem of cross-wind landing.

I'm not sure how long an aluminum aircraft tube will last in the salty environment. Lord knows that bikes enjoy a short lived useful lifespan on the island. I'm sure maintenance in that environment will be a costly venture, although admittedly a great deal of fun!

How will the environmental and noise impacts of such a craft fit into the values of the community? Time will tell. I know of many folks who object to jet-skis on the island, and believe ultralights will be received in the same light. Personally I would not bring an ultralight to an environment like Caye Caulker, it is contradictory with the peace and tranquility that makes the island a very special place. Just my 2 cents. smile

#470005 - 08/11/13 02:38 PM Re: Flying High on Caye Caulker!! [Re: BlueOceanParadise]  
Joined: Aug 2013
Posts: 6
Airman Offline
Airman  Offline
Hey Blue Ocean Paradise, thanks for your post and whenever you come down here again. Let's go up there and enjoy the view;)
You are right, it's a big ocean and when you are flying at an altitude of 500 to a 1000' its even bigger:)

#470007 - 08/11/13 02:44 PM Re: Flying High on Caye Caulker!! [Re: Dane]  
Joined: Aug 2013
Posts: 6
Airman Offline
Airman  Offline
Dane, I have the first amphibious trike in Belize and it took me 18 months to get a permit from BCAV to fly off the water. I have to stick to all the rules and regulations the regular air traffic bound to and I wouldn't want to fly with a regular trike down here either. There certainly is more water than land around here and in case of an emergency landing there would hardly be a place to land. That's why I choose an amphib;)

#470008 - 08/11/13 02:50 PM Re: Flying High on Caye Caulker!! [Re: MikeD]  
Joined: Aug 2013
Posts: 6
Airman Offline
Airman  Offline
Mike, I don't want to question your experience as a pilot, far from it but even with floats, actually especially with floats I have to land into the wind!!!
And yes lot's of aluminum pipes but also titanium. And rest assured it's my life on the string (under the wing;) and I enjoy my life to much and will keep an eye on that corrosion. And there sure is a difference between cheap alu bikes made in China compared to airplane grade aluminum pipes made in the USA.

#470012 - 08/11/13 04:08 PM Re: Flying High on Caye Caulker!! [Re: Airman]  
Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 259
MikeD Offline
MikeD  Offline
Perhaps I was comment on direction of landing was that landing on water allows an amphib to land in any direction...obviously allowing the pilot to land into the wind.

Pilots here in the northeast US avoid salt during winter ops. During winter months salt is NEVER used on runways or taxiways, instead urea fertilizer is used as an ice melt where needed because of its much less corrosive qualities and is environmentally safer.

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