SIMPSON BAY, St. Maarten (Thursday, August 20, 2015)—The proposed Aviation Training Academy of the Princess Juliana International Airport, SXM, is a “brilliant idea,” said Adam Twidell, a former Air Force pilot with the Royal Air Force (RAF) of the UK and one of the eleven journalists who were invited to participate in the media tour organized by SXM Airport.
Twidell, speaking at the final session of the packed media tour last Friday, said not only would the Academy cater to those who wish to pursue aviation studies, but could also result in their families coming to St. Maarten to “have an aviation holiday.”
Twidell, of PrivateFly, which organizes the annual “most stunning approach” competition, is also a contributor to Aviation Week and an expert commentator for BBC. He had earlier promised to do whatever he can to establish a direct service from the UK to SXM Airport.
Chiming in on the proposed Aviation Training, Robert Mark, a professional pilot, and an award-winning aviation journalist and expert commentator/analyst for CNN, FOX News, NBC and CBS among others, said the idea was “a big deal.”
All over the world, Mark said, “we’re running out of Air Traffic Controllers like we’re running out of pilots.”
He noted that in the USA, government is in charge of Air Traffic Controllers and many trained controllers cannot find a job today, after spending thousands of dollars on their education, while less qualified ones are employed by government. This is a disincentive, he said. Mark said he had the opportunity to interview Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs, who spoke extensively about his time as an Air Traffic Controller.
An Aviation Training Academy would further position SXM as a positive “epicenter of aviation” as Twidell described it.
The select group of aviation and travel writers were very impressed with SXM Airport, and the destination as a whole, including the hub partners – St. Martin, Saba, St. Barths, and Anguilla – which they were able to visit, and the information they were able to gather about Dominica.
“There are so many stories to tell,” said videographer Kristen Kellogg.