Captain Lloyd Marshall, Airline Pilot, Guyana's Jet Aviation Pioneer

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Captain Lloyd Marshall, Airline Pilot, Guyana's Jet Aviation Pioneer

Unread post by bimjim » Tue Jan 15, 2019

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Captain Lloyd Marshall, Airline Pilot, Guyana's Jet Aviation Pioneer...
Sharmain Grainger
Sat, 01/17/2015

“As I approach an airplane to fly I am ever mindful of the statement ‘Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous, but it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity, error or neglect.’”

As part of the celebration of 100 years of aviation in Guyana, a number of pioneers in the sector have been recognized and duly honored. A few were even selected and celebrated. However, it would not only be remiss, but certainly a failure on the part of this publication to not recognize one of the most outstanding men who helped to effectively define the local aviation sector.

With a career in aviation spanning over four decades, Lloyd Marshall can easily be ascribed the unique status of being a Guyanese pilot who has significant experience in both domestic and international flight operations.

There is no denying he is worthy of the title of ‘Special Person’ today. But exactly who is this dedicated son of the soil and from whence did he come?

While space may not permit an expansive reflection on his contributions to the aviation sector, there is definitely ample room to encapsulate some of the details of his life that make him one of the most exceptional persons you’ll ever come across.

A widower since 1994, after 23 years of marriage, Marshall is the father of five daughters, one of whom resides with him at his Century Palm Gardens home.

The Youthful Years

Born Lloyd Herbert Marshall, to parents Marjorie and Leo Marshall, on January 13, 1946, in the village of Agricola, East Bank Demerara, he was the second of six children.

As adults, two of his brothers, David and George moved to the United States and his two sisters June and Marjorie (May) opted for residency in Melbourne, Australia.

But while his memories of his siblings are mostly pleasant, he recalls one sad memory of his elder brother Fitzroy, who was murdered in his home on January 19, 2009.

For most of his youthful years, he resided in the Ruimveldt Police Compound with his parents and siblings, since his father was a detective assigned to the Ruimveldt Station.

In those days, children were not required to start school until the age of six. As such, young Lloyd’s formal primary education commenced in 1952 at Agricola Methodist School.

In 1955, his father enrolled him at a small private Primary School called Wilson’s Training Institute located in Mc Doom Village. The Principal, Mr. C. B. Wilson, was a retired Head Teacher and a rigid disciplinarian.

Marshall recalled how Principal Wilson “impressed on his students the value and benefits of reading and how important it was to strive for excellence in all aspects of life.”

Students who attended Principal Wilson’s school at that time included the country’s Chief Justice, Ian Chang, his brother Ivor and sister Joan, and of course, most of the residents who resided in proximity to the school.

Passion for Poetry

According to a nostalgic Marshall, “Principal Wilson loved poetry and would shower praises on those students who could recite lengthy poems from memory.” In fact, he is confident that it was such a pastime that fostered his passion for poetry.

“I developed such a love for poetry that I became an enthusiastic poet,” a beaming Marshall recently recounted.

In 1991, he received an award from the World Poetry Press of Sacramento, California, when his submission reached the semi-finals of that year’s competition. He was invited in August of that same year, to attend the seventh convention of the World of Poetry held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Manhattan, New York. At that convention, he had the opportunity to recite his poem to a large international audience.

From 1995 through 2000, Marshall was an active member of the Georgetown Toastmasters Club which is affiliated to Toastmasters International. On two occasions during this period, he won the First Place Trophy for the best speaker in the Impromptu Speech Contest. He also enjoyed the poetry sessions which were organized for “lesser known poets.”

High School Days

But decades before that achievement, in 1958 to be exact, Lloyd was preparing to enter Secondary School.

“At that time it was called High School and children who were not going on to High School had to take the School Leaving Exam. The exam for entrance to High School was the Government County Scholarship Exam.”

He remembered that unlike today, entrance to high school was not free. In fact, he disclosed that students with the best performances were eligible to benefit from the three scholarships that were awarded by the Government, one for each county – hence the name Government County Scholarship.

However, Marshall, like many other students, on the basis of the exam results was awarded a partial scholarship by Mr. Austin Castello, the Principal of one of the premier schools at the time – Tutorial High. This represented significant savings in tuition fees for his father.

“My days at Tutorial were enjoyable and memorable,” he recalled, even as he explained that what was most memorable was the fact that he was among a batch of students who were the first to sign up for Science subjects at the external Cambridge Exams.

Interestingly enough, that batch was instrumental in helping to set up the school’s new Science laboratories.

Marshall remembered being fascinated by huge crates arriving at the school with all the necessary equipment and instruments associated with Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

“This entire operation unfolded in our (students’) presence,” Marshall reflected. Though students had a small role to play, the activities were supervised by a special Science Master, Mr. Basil Greaves, from the United States. The students were quite fond of Mr. Greaves and would bestow him with the nickname ‘Ba So4’ (Barium Sulphate), Marshall recalled.

He recounted that students were very interested in the Science subjects and it is believed that, for this reason, their exam results were good.

Marshall excelled in the Arts, Mathematics and the Sciences at the Senior Cambridge Exam in 1962. Soon after, he was engaged in his first employment appointment as a school teacher at St Andrews Primary in 1963. In fact, one of his students was the young Donald Ramotar, who currently holds the position of Executive President of Guyana.

But Marshall was certainly not prepared to limit himself to teaching alone. He was bent on expanding his horizons and embraced his love for music, so much so, that he learnt to play Classical Guitar at the intermediate level. He is self-taught, not only in reading musical scores written for the classical guitar, but also in the art of playing this sensitive instrument. According to him, he finds this hobby very challenging but extremely rewarding.

Aviation Takes Centre Stage

Ever since he was a young boy, Lloyd Marshall had an innate desire to become a pilot. This yearning was fostered by his admiration for Mr. Clavier, a pilot ‘back in the day’. Every spare moment the young Marshall had, he would hurry over to a hangar which was situated behind the Ruimveldt Police Station.

“After school I would quickly complete my chores and hurry over to the hangar to see the planes,” he recounted. He was convinced that flying was his ultimate forte after he was granted the privilege to climb into a plane and take the pilot seat.

“I was ecstatic, I was overjoyed…I decided there and then that when I grew up I would be a pilot just like Mr. Clavier,” Marshall reminisced.

After completing school he attempted to join the Georgetown Light Aeroplane Club, but was unsuccessful because of social and financial constraints. But according to him, “I never lost sight of my ambitious goal.”

Marshall’s dream was certainly going to become a reality. He recalled that in December 1966 he was granted an Air Traffic Control scholarship sponsored by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and in 1967 he completed the training programme at the ICAO regional training centre in Trinidad.

Upon his return to Guyana in 1968, he commenced working as an Air Traffic Controller with the Civil Aviation Department. He remained there for two and a half years.

Boyhood Dream Becomes a Reality

It was in June 1970 that his boyhood dream became a reality when he was awarded a Pilot Scholarship by the Guyana Airways Corporation (GAC). He was soon after enrolled at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida and successfully completed the Professional Pilot Training Programme.

On April 25, 1971, a qualified Marshall officially joined the GAC and remained with that airline until it closed in 1999.

During his tenure with GAC, he recalled having the privilege of flying every type of aircraft the airline operated, the likes of the amphibian Grumman Goose, which entered service with the original British Guiana Airways in 1945, the Venerable DC-3, which was the foundation airplane for worldwide airline operations and which was flown by almost all the airlines post World War II.

He flew the Cessna 310G, the DeHavilland DHC-6 (Twin Otter), the DeHavilland DHC-4 (Caribou), the Hawker Siddeley 748 (Avro) and the Shorts SC-7 (Skyvan). He was also trained to operate the Boeing 737-200, the TU-154M, the Boeing 707 and the Boeing 757.

His dedication to his profession saw him in 1976 being promoted to Captain on the Twin Otter and in 1978, Captain on the HS748.

His elevation to aviation prominence continued in 1980 when he was appointed a Senior Captain in the airline, and in the same year, he was nominated a Training Captain for the Twin Otter and HS748 and a Ground School Instructor for the Twin Otter.

And since the Jet era also began in 1980, from September to November he attended the Boeing 737 Training Programme at Eastern Provincial Airways in Halifax, Canada.

On his return to Guyana, Marshall flew the B737-200, (which was delivered brand new from Boeing to GAC) under a lease arrangement with Maersk Air of Denmark.

Early in the lease, he was selected by the Chief Pilot of Maersk to be the Guyana Airways’ Instructor Pilot for the B737. However, the B737 lease was terminated in 1982.

In August to December of 1985, Marshall studied at the Civil Aviation Training Centre in Ulyanovsk, USSR, for certification on the TU-154; and from 1986 to 1988, he flew the Russian-manufactured Jet with Romanian Pilots from TAROM Airlines.

Incidentally, the TU154 was the only Jet that carried a Guyana registration— 8R-GGA, he recalled.

Following the termination of the TU154 operations, it was back to school again.

By the end of 1989, Marshall had completed his training at the Pan American Airways Flight Academy in Miami, for the FAA (United States Licence) certification on the Boeing 707.

Moreover, in 1991, he was sponsored by the Civil Aviation Department for the prestigious Instrument Rating Examiner’s Course which was conducted at the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority Training Centre at Gatwick, London.

This certification gave him the legality to conduct Instrument Rating Examinations for the Civil Aviation Department.

A Noteworthy Flight

In 1993, it was recorded in Guyana’s Aviation History, that Captain Marshall was the first Guyanese pilot, resident in Guyana, to Captain a Jet aircraft on a scheduled flight. The aircraft was the four-engine Boeing 707, transporting 185 passengers and a crew of nine from Georgetown to New York.

The Flight Crew was: Lloyd Marshall – Captain; Egbert Field – First Officer; John Schoppaul – Flight Engineer and six flight attendants.

Following a logical change of aircraft from the Boeing 707 to the Boeing 757, he went on to be trained for FAA certification on the Boeing 757 at America West Airways in Phoenix, Arizona, which allowed him to captain the B757 from 1995 until the closure of GAC in1999.

During the period 2000/2001, he held the position of Captain of the Dehavilland DHC- 8 (Dash 8) for Air Jamaica Express (Eastern Caribbean Express). This tenure gave him the opportunity to become familiar with the Caribbean Islands.

In Oct 2001, he responded to the request from the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) to assist in the introduction of the newly-acquired Y-12 aircraft into the Air Corps fleet. As a result, he was trained by the Chinese on the aircraft in October/November 2001.

Then in 2002, he single-handedly conducted a complete GDF-sponsored Ground and Flight Training programme for five pilots for their certification on the aircraft.

Today, Captain Marshall is contracted as a Civilian pilot with the GDF and continues this association with Air Corps, serving as a Y-12 Captain and providing Ground and Flight Training for Pilots. He also recommends programmes, procedures and systems conducive for the safe operation of the aircraft.

His extensive experience has seen him being able to accumulate 23,000 flight hours: 14,000 on Turbo Props, 8,000 on Jets and 1,000 on Pistons.

And according to him, “I consider the past 46 years in the aviation industry as most enjoyable while affording tremendous job satisfaction.”

Humbled

“I feel humbled by the overall experience, having witnessed time after time from a front seat view – the grandeur of a sunrise, the splendour of a sunset, the vastness of the skies, the awesome power of thunderstorms and the virgin beauty of unexplored jungles,” a reflective Marshall expressed.

However, he doesn’t profess to know it all as according to him, “I am still learning about aviation and flying airplanes. As I approach an airplane to fly, I am ever mindful of the statement ‘Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous, but it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity, error or neglect.’”

And it was for his significant contribution to the sector that Captain Lloyd Marshall was in March of 2013 presented with an award by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) for “sterling contribution to the development of aviation in Guyana.” Today he is also being honoured by this publication for his contributions.


This article was first published in Kaieteur News in November 2013

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