[Basil Lowe] Bajan pilot flying high with AA

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[Basil Lowe] Bajan pilot flying high with AA

Unread post by bimjim » Sun Jun 04, 2017

http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/ne ... -flying-aa

[Basil Lowe] Bajan pilot flying high with AA
CARLOS ATWELL
04 June 2017

SINCE CHILDHOOD, Basil Lowe has dreamed of flying.

Now the 60-year-old is a captain at American Airlines (AA) and the first to pilot the international airline’s new Airbus to Barbados.

What makes this occasion even more special is that Lowe was born right here in Superlative, St George, and grew up in nearby St Helen’s. In an interview with the SUNDAY SUN, Lowe tells about his origins, beliefs, experiences and a bit about his future.

“It was phenomenal growing up in Barbados. The kids in Superlative had a moral ground we all had to live by. We had a “sheriff” named Hugh Graham, who was only ten or 11 but who put it upon himself to keep our “laws”; he wore a badge, too, that actually said “sheriff”. Back then, our word was our honour and that’s the way I still live today,” he said.

The captain is the son of Daphne Lowe, 94, who met him at the airport, and Elert Lowe, now deceased. Daphne was the deputy principal at the then Belleplaine Primary School in St Andrew and later at St Jude’s Primary, St George while Elert was the principal at then St Simons and then Hillaby Primary School, St Andrew.

He said it was wonderful to see his mother again on such an occasion but was saddened his father could not experience it.

“That meant so much to me; I remember how 37 years ago she was a bit sceptical about me becoming a pilot, but she’s okay now,” he said.

From the tender age of four, Lowe said he had been dreaming of flying, with dreams of hovering at will above his home or casually floating away from the “heart-man”, one of the bogeymen of older days.

“This was my subtle foray into aviation. As a boy, my toys were mostly aircraft, some self-made from my school’s exercise book pages or from my dad’s printer paper. Growing up, I would watch aeroplanes flying overhead making contrails (the white trail sometimes seen behind aircraft) and desired to make my own contrails.

“As I reached my teenage years, my parents queried my career interest. At the time, that answer was fuzzy – the inclination was to say a doctor or a lawyer, but definitely not a teacher – we already had too many of those in the family – but one day at school, the now defunct Presentation College in St John, I was perusing a book which had an article on jobs and income. The top three paying and intriguing jobs listed were doctors, lawyers and, interestingly, pilots,” he said.

The captain said there was no turning back from there as he then knew pursuing a career as a doctor or a lawyer would only be fulfilling someone else’s dream so after graduating from Presentation College, he was fortunate to have a friend who alerted him to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, which was offering two scholarships per year, all expenses paid, to attend the Caribbean Aviation Training Institute in Trinidad.

“My first flying job was for Air BVI in the British Virgin Islands flying DC3s, HS748s, affectionately called Avros, and Britten-Norman Islanders. Thanks to my sister Sonya, I was able to migrate to the USA in February 1997 to fulfil my ultimate dream of flying with a major airline. That dream was fulfilled on October 25, 1999, when I was hired by American Airlines,” he said.

It took Lowe a further 17 years before he reached the rank of captain at AA, though he still considers it a blessing as he landed the job only two and a half years after gaining citizenship. Before reaching that rank, he had been back home before, though as a first officer. Now, he is back with a bang as he said the Airbus was a new type of plane.

“I’ve only been a captain at AA since September. I used to fly 757s but now I’m captaining an Airbus 321S. It was a feeling of nervous excitement to be in the cockpit of such a machine as it is not like a traditional aircraft like the Boeings I had flown before.

“It introduces the fly-by-wire technique and is controlled by dozens of computers. There is no traditional yoke (plane steering wheel) either; instead there is a joystick like a game console. I had to throw out the traditional ways of operating aircraft and was forced to think outside the box,” he said.

Lowe wanted to thank Lionel Weekes and Tony Archer, who ran the Civil Aviation programme back then, as well as AA. He said he planned to keep flying.

“This is a really proud moment for me and my family because I feel I have represented that scholarship I got to go and fly. They can see I put it to good use.

“I will keep flying the Airbus for the foreseeable future but after I retire, I hope to be relaxing on the beaches of St George sipping coconut water,” he said, laughing as he knew that would be impossible.

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