Monday the 14th. Ten days into the rally felt like a month. Every day was a new day filled with activities and new experiences. This day was no different. Again, beautiful weather on the way to Antigua so we could just enjoy the flight over the Caribbean islands of Dominica, Guadeloupe and Monserrat looking down at the beauty of these islands and sometimes we could get a glimpse at a volcano …. thinking: we are so privileged !!!We landed on schedule at 11 AM at the V.C Bird International Airport. This being our first time in Antigua, we did not attempt a formation approach and planned the event for the next day instead: an opportunity to see more of the island from the air. We mentioned earlier that customs clearance in Martinique was easiest “hard to beat” procedure??? Customs clearance in Antigua was alsosurely one of Rally highlights! After parking the planes, the group was directed to a huge tent and welcomed by Antigua Tourism representatives, Neil Forrester, President of the Antigua Hotel Association and exceptionally, a group of nice ladies and gents in uniform, from the Customs and immigration office who had accepted to relocate their desk for the occasion. Paperwork out of the way! Time to enjoy the specialties buffet and refreshments and get introduced to our hosts. What a nice way to start!! Thank you Antigua ! Antigua airport used to be just a small island airport. Presently construction is on the way to make it one of the largest world class International airports in the Caribbean. Antigua is not familiar with private aircraft traffic. Their knowledge of General Aviation comes through the great number of private jets periodically bringing celebrities to their vacation retreat. On occasion there are as many as 20 jets parked on the tarmac!!! Antigua is looking to develop General Aviation and welcomes private pilots to the island with open arms. Participants checked at the Halcyon Resort on the shores of Dickenson Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in the entire Caribbean, conveniently located near airport and any of the most interesting island exploration trips
The ceremony of the finals was held on board the “D BOAT “ a very popular party boat owned by two Canadians who had the brilliant idea to turn a 1974 decommissioned oil tanker into a floating permanently anchored entertainment center. The boat was ours to enjoy.. It was a beautiful night at sea, under the stars, in a romantic setting with candlelit lamps and smooth jazz music. We were honoured by the presence of Her Excellency, Governor General Dame Louise Lake-Tack and Minister of Tourism, Hon. John Maginley, and Mr James Tourism Chairman of the Board. Dame Louise lake -Tack delivered the trophy to the winning team:
Brian Pound/Pinsent respectively form Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick Canada. In second place, team of Ray Lee/Sue Morgensen/Sandra Garruth from Wyoming, USA Both teams received each a pair of Sennheiser S1 digital premium headsets courtesy of Sennheiser Canada In third position: Team of Richard & Trisha Schmidt/Ben Lam, Arizona/Michigan, USA.
The next day, Tuesday the 15th, we had a couple of plans: a boat trip, a jeep tour, or for the more “Romantic”: flight formation practice.
Above: Michael & Tera, Sherry, Brian and Brian touring Antigua
Neil, president of Antigua Hotel and Tourism Association with experience flying in Africa looked forward to enjoying the show …from the air!!!. By now The group of formation flight (4 planes) had evolved into a nice & well trained group, we had practiced so much on the trip that our “Caribbean Angel Squadron” looked quite impressive from the ground … or from the sea!
Steve and David flying a Piper Seneca, from Michigan
Matthew flying PA30 Comanche, from SC
As it happened, part of the group of pilots had embarked on a boat to discover some of the 360 beaches Antigua offers and were surprised to see our planes doing a pass over their heads “a little teaser…” We visited English Harbour, a world heritage site located in the Capital St-Johns and the neighboring village of Falmouth internationally recognized as a yachting sailing destination. Antigua is famous for the annual world-class regatta taking place at the end of April during Antigua Sailing Week. This sports event brings 150-200 yachts and around 1500 participants from all over the world.
In the evening we took a walk on the beach passing the larger resorts such as Sandal’s, discreetly watching couples while they enjoyed a private “torch” light dinner served by an elegant “Maître D” or sitting on bed-size lounge chairs holding hands looking at the ocean.. It seemed to be the thing to do… almost like a ritual.
There are so many things to do and places to visit; one visit is not enough !! we look forward to next year !! Thank you Antigua !!!