[Antigua] LIAT pilot’s career comes to an end
Wednesday, May 30th, 2012.
LIAT pilot Maurice Albert, left, was sent into retirement with warm wishes from colleagues and friends.
The ceremonial pomp generally reserved for dignitaries was extended to pilot Maurice Albert as he landed his 362 LIAT plane on the VC Bird International Airport’s tarmac yesterday for the last time – bringing a 43-year career to an end.
Over 80 LIAT pilots – dressed in their uniforms to honour him – and other staff cheered as Albert made his final fly-by and then landed to the traditional water salute, where two fire trucks showered the plane as it slowed to a halt.
For the first time in his flying career, Albert was not the last to depart the plane, but the first. As he descended the aircraft steps he was greeted by his two granddaughters who ushered him down the path of well-wishers bidding him farewell.
The captain was then escorted to a reception where he received a champagne toast and laughed as members of the LIAT team took turns writing well wishes on the final LIAT captain’s uniform that Albert will wear.
Although he conceded that it was a bittersweet occasion, the pilot said he will be going on a long vacation and doesn’t see himself returning to the cockpit, saying, “I certainly will not be flying again … but I think enough is enough. I have had a good run and I won’t push my luck,” Albert declared.
LIAT pilot Michael Simon, who shared the cockpit with Albert on his final journey from Barbados to Antigua, is just one of the many pilots inspired by the extensive career of the senior pilot.
“It was an honour and privilege for me to have the opportunity to commemorate a moment in Caribbean aviation history, that one individual spent 43 years flying the region with the same company,” said Simon.
He added, “Captain Albert has been a friend and a mentor to me and I’ve gained a vast amount of knowledge from having flown beside such an experienced captain.”
Among the guests in attendance were Senator Joanne Massiah, President of the Leeward Islands Air Pilots’ Association (LIALPA) Arthur Senhouse and outgoing CEO of LIAT Brian Challenger.
“The whole LIAT team commemorates the retirement of Captain Maurice Albert. He has been a true symbol of the professionalism and integrity and everything that is good in LIAT,” Challenger said upon Albert’s retirement.
Albert has reached the age of 65, which is the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s required retirement age.
The pilot retires with the distinction of having the greatest continuous service record of any LIAT employee.