The Pilots

DSC_5152 The Caribbean Air Rally is a unique opportunity for young  commercial pilots to acquire confidence and experience at the International level. The crossing of at least 7 borders, the drastic changes of landscape and meteorological conditions they experience on route from North America to the Caribbean, the familiarization with foreign country’s regulations and communications and the variety of cultures they encounter in the course of a 15 day journey, all of these factors contribute to add appreciated value to their Curriculum.

Caribbean Air Rally Organizing Committee are world travel  highly experienced pilots. Young pilots could not dream of a better environment. For all these reasons, the Pilot Mentor Program must be brought forward and implemented at a larger scale with the support of  the Aviation Community and Aviation Industry.

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 Meet the lucky pilots !!!



Caribbean Air Rally 2014 – Pilot Mentor Pilots

This year, Mentors Richard Schmidt from Arizona and Peter Fuss, from Vermont, invited 2 young pilots from Michigan to fly PIC onboard their respective Twin Baron 55 and Diamond Twin DA42. IMG_7351

Thomas Klotz, Ypsilanti, MIUntitled-1

 FAA Commercial pilot & Flight Instructor ASEL

DSCN0949 thomasGrowing up, I always had a strong interest in aviation. Building and flying models with my dad were among my favorite memories. As I grew, so did the passion, reading and learning about the fascinating history of human flight. After graduating high school, I began to look at the possibility of a career as a pilot. I have never looked back. I began flying at Lansing Community College where I earned my licenses and an associate’s degree in aviation. Eventually I transferred to Western Michigan University to take advantage of their aviation program and complete my Bachelors of Science degree in Aviation Science and Administration. I found work as a flight instructor at Solo Aviation, a flight school in Ann Arbor Michigan. I have instructed there for nearly two years.  During that time, I have also run their Instrument Ground School. I earned my multi-engine commercial rating last year in a Diamond Twinstar (DA42), the same airplane I hope to fly in the Caribbean Air Rally. I love to share my passion with others. I volunteer for Wings of Mercy, a collection of pilots and supporters who transport individuals in need to distant medical care centers so they can receive treatment. I also volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America. An Eagle Scout, I enjoy helping the next generation of Boy Scouts earn their aviation merit badges. As they discover aviation, my goal is to help them spark a life-long interest. The reason I hope to fly in the Caribbean International Air Rally is that it offers exciting possibilities of discovering different countries and experiencing different people and cultures. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will give me great enjoyment and unique life-experience. It surely will challenge and improve the skills of any pilot for me especially as the terrain encountered during the trip is a type that most pilots of the Midwest do not get the opportunity to encounter. I have never flown internationally, so it would be an incredible opportunity for me to travel between different countries accompanied by experienced and capable pilots. Building time and experience in a multi-engine airplane will not only add to flying ability, but will directly help me meet requirements for future jobs in my career. Although I do not know where my future will take me, I would like to work for an airline, eventually becoming a captain with a major carrier. I hope to be a part of the professional aviation industry while remaining active in general aviation.  I plan to teach others when I can and to “pay forward” some of the wonderful opportunities that I have received. I am looking forward to the wonderful possibilities, experiences and stories that would surely come from participating in the Caribbean International Air Rally!


 Benjamin Lamb, Ann Arbor, MIUntitled-1

CFI, Commercial, Multi-Engine

41262_1239965520254_3451265_n benjaminI have been flying for five and a half years now and I have loved every second of it. I   thoroughly enjoy working as a flight instructor in Ann Arbor, MI. I am excited to fly every day and to work with students to help them accomplish their aviation goals. I have flown all over Michigan and down to Florida for a week in my flying career this far. I also went to Jamaica with my church to help people in a small village there. The opportunity of flying in the International Air Rally would be a dream come true.

The experience of flying into different countries will provide me with great confidence . Building multi-engine time is a vital benefit to reach my goal of becoming a pilot for a major airline.I feel privileged and I am very grateful to my Mentor Richard Schmidt, Aviation Connection and Bombardier for giving me this unique great opportunity









4637535-719566-plane-iconCaribbean Air Rally 2013- Pilot Mentor Pilots

In 2013, two young pilots, Thomas Bernard from France, undergoing instruction in St-Hubert Quebec and Raphael Lavoie, commercial/IFR and instructor from Cargair, Montreal will be able to log time all the way from Montreal to Martinique and back thanks to Bombardier continued support.

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Thomas Bernard, FranceUntitled-1


 38496_408278538911_7035642_nI remember in childhood as being one those who could not resist looking up and be fascinated by everything that flies. I could not name a specific time, place nor person that gave me the passion for aviation but I’ve always been drawn towards it. In my last year of secondary school, a time in which I was questioning myself regarding my career orientation, a Flying School from Toussus-le-Noble in France came to our class and talked to us about the world of Aviation and what being a pilot is really like. This presentation made me decide to take the require steps to embrace the career. In 2007 at age 16, I started to take flying lessons on the week-end and passed my Private Pilot License just two years later right after graduating from high school. I then decided to study one year Aviation Engineering and in the mean time I looked into all the avenues to become a professional pilot.  I chose to undergo training in Canada and registered at the flying school in St-Hubert where I am today.  It is here that I did my most memorable flights such as the 300NM that took me over the Torontos skyline and onto the city center airport and it’s magnificent approach. When I received the opportunity to be part of the Caribbean Air Rally, I saw a chance to live another amazing life experience, one that would help me become a better and safer pilot as well as give me the opportunity to be part of an event dedicated only to the passion for aviation. I am really looking forward to take off! I would like to thank Bombardier and Aviation Connection to make such dreams come true. I also want to thank Benoit Riga, 2011 Pilot Mentor Program participant for bringing me to the Governor General’s Cup.


Raphael Lavoie, Montreal CanadaUntitled-1



My name is Raphael, I’m from a small city up north of Quebec called Saguenay. Unlike most of the pilots I meet, I use to be afraid to the idea of being in an airplane. As I was finishing college a couple of years ago, I would have never … never thought I would travel and even less fly anywhere and today I’m a flight instructor in Saint Hubert. I work at Cargair / Max Aviation on the integrated program that is given to Chinese students from companies like Hainan Airline and Shangdong Airlines as well as local students. Before I became a pilot, I studied music which brought me to work as a pianist / ass. Band leader for Cirque du Soleil “Alegria’s show”. I also worked as a musicial recruiter for the company’s head office in Montreal. My 5 years participation in the show “Alegria” has brought me around the world, to countries in South America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America. After meeting many pilots while touring with “Alegria”, I slowly started my training and I now work full time at Cargair Flying School. Now , flying is for me the best work I could ever imagine. A series of random coincidences brought me here and I have to admit: I can’t wait to start this incredible experience. Thanks to Catherine Tobenas for this great opportunity and for organizing those amazing adventures! Also to Camil Dumont with Aviation Connection for being my Mentor and accepting to share his PA32 and of course Bombardier for providing the financial support.


Caribbean Air Rally 2012-Pilot Mentor Pilots

April 10 2012, 3 young commercial pilots will take off from Ontario and Quebec Canada as support pilots to Aviation Connection  Mentors. A unique opportunity is offered to them:  Flying across Eastern United States, Bahamas and Caribbean islands on their way to the beautiful island of Grenada. Crossing 8 borders, logging close to 4,500 Nautical Miles total &  over 40 flying hours.DSC_5152 They will  meet a group of exhilarated pilots from 7 different countries participating to the Governor General’s Cup Caribbean Air challenge 2012 edition. The armada of 21 aircraft will depart from Fort Lauderdale April 13. Lara Harmon from Winnipeg, Anthony Lebailly and Mathieu Leclerc from Quebec  tell their story (see PMP adventures). The inauguration and Finals ceremonies will be hosted by his excellency the Governor of Turks and Caicos.

 Lara Harmon, Ontario Canada

image001A little bit about myself… I started flying as a student at Sault College, and graduated from the program in 2009. My interest in aviation was sparked from my family and they have always been very supportive of me following my dreams. My Mother had uncles who were on the Lancaster in WWII, and my father is a mechanical engineer who always had a collection of motorcycles, boats, ect. around the house. I remember going to motorcycle rallies and air shows as a kid, so flying to me was a natural progression. During my time at college my Uncle Chris moved back to Canada from Australia where he had been flying both airplanes and helicopters, so this became a common interest between us. Since Graduation I completed my float and instructor rating and worked at a small flying club. I now instruct on the Czech built aerobatic Zlin 242L back at Sault College. Chris and I have done 2 trips now to North Carolina, as well as flying around the Muskoka area in his Lake Renegade. I aspire to one day become an airline pilot. There are so many avenues in aviation to choose from between now and then. I love the challenge and precision of aerobatics, I would like to put my muti-IFR to use, and it has always been a dream of mine to fly a Dehavilland Beaver on floats. I’m very excited to accompany Chris & Beth on this adventure! What an amazing way to see new places from a bird’s eye view. I would like to thank Bombardier and Catherine at International Air Rally & Aviation Connection for this opportunity of a lifetime!

Anthony Lebailly, Québec  Canada

Growing up my father would take me to the local flight club on Saturdays. I would build my model aircrafts and look at the planes. In 2003, I did my introductory flight and a year later, I had my private pilot license, I was 18. Over the next couple of years, I entered over a dozen air rallies, one of which was the “Tour aérien des jeunes pilotes”, the biggest youth competition in France.

In February 2009, I left Normandy, France and moved to the Quebec to pursue my commercial license. In the summer of 2010, I started flight instructing at Aéro Loisirs in La Macaza. I am now a Class 2 CFI on Single Engine, Multi-Engine and IFR. Over the past few years I have taken various trips. In December 2009, I went from Montreal to Miami in a Cessna 172. The following winter, I flew from Montreal to Guadeloupe in a Cessna 177. Last summer, I flew a Cirrus SR22T from Miami to Montreal and in November I flew it to Martinique. With this rally, I am looking forward to gaining more valuable flight experience and to see that fine white sand and brilliant turquoise water. I wish to thank the opportunity that Bombardier and Catherine offered me to participate in the International Air Rally. This is really a chance for me for my future career as a pilot. I already want to be there… I wish to thank Anton used to restructure that I will fly during those 2 weeks. Anthony’s experience is a great asset to the Air rally as he is familiar with flying the Caribbean islands. Anthony will assist the organizing committee in preparing the journey and providing valuable support.

Mathieu Leclerc, Québec Canada

It is hard to determine a specific element that ignited my passion for aviation. I remember my years in elementary school where I was fascinated by pictures of WW2 planes I found in books at the library. Later on, my dad brought me to some air shows that left a lasting impression on me. What I think really convinced me that I wanted to fly as a career was my parent’s 17th birthday present. The gift was a one hour initiation flight at a local flight school called « Pilote d’un jour ». It was the first time I could really feel what flying was like and I fell in love with it. After high school, I applied at the « Centre Québécois de Formation en Aéronautique», a 3 years governmental program which mixes flight instructions with pre-university courses. I passed through the 3 selection stages and was really riveted when I received my acceptance letter to the program. It was in 2008 and I was 17. I had to move to Chicoutimi, 5 hours away from my hometown, Montreal, to pursue my dream. There, I learned how to fly on the yellow and red Beechcraft Sundowners of the CQFA. I got my private license at the end of my second year of schooling, in 2009. The following years at the CQFA, I did my mutli-engine and IFR licenses on the Piper Navajo. I finished just before the beginning of summer 2011, I was 20. Just after finishing school, I was hired by Exactair for the fire patrols in their most northern base, Manic 5. It was really interesting to fly in northern Quebec in my Cessna 182 and to experience gravel runways in mountainous and remote areas. After the summer, I tried to find a job as a co-pilot somewhere but because I didn’t have enough flight hours, I was unable to find a job. I decided it was a good time for me to travel, another passion of mine, so I went for three and a half month backpacking around Asia. So now here I am, back in Montreal preparing for this amazing trip in the Caribbean’s! I would like to thank Camil and Catherine from Aviation Connection for the opportunity they give me to participate to the International Air Rally. I also want to give a special thanks to Bombardier’s initiative as it has allowed me to take part in this life changing project. This is a great occasion for me to jumpstart my career as a professional pilot. Untitled-1



 Jean Denis Marcellin, Ontario Canada 

2012-02-29 14.48.57is a professional pilot by career, but a versatile communicator by profession. He loves to connect with new pilots, to experience incredible adventures, and most of all, to share his passion for aviation. All these reasons led him to connect with Catherine Tobenas just after graduating from the CQFA flight college in 2006, and become the first name on the ever-growing list of sponsered pilots through the International Air Rally. Crossing Canada from the absolute south to the fridgid north, he finished the rally on the winning team of the 2006 Arctic Challenge. Through his connections in the Air Rally, he went on to become Line and Training Captain for a charter operation near Toronto, which then led to his present position as Captain on the state-of-the-art PC12NG for a major Canadian operator. He is also the Communications Manager for an international Not For Profit organization. Outside of work, he dedicates his free time to promoting Aviation and, more particularly, specializes in CRM through the proper understanding of the Human Factor and Leadership in the cockpit. Through this study he aims to promote proper Crew Resource Management by expanding outside of the usual elements taught in aviation classrooms and bringing about a new level of professionalism and safety by reaching out to the NEW pilots as well as the seasoned ones. He maintains a great contact with Aviation Connection members and whenever possible helps Aviation Connection Mentored Pilots move on with a career


Caribbean Air Rally 2011-Pilot Mentor Pilots


This year we have two young commercial pilots, Pete from California and Benoit from Guadeloupe invited onboard flying out of Montreal to Martinique and back. Carlo is from Italia, undergoing training at ATA Fling School in Hollywood Florida.rally_2011_photo_CaribbeanAirChallenge_PilotMentor_DSC0868_600x399px

Benoit RIGA JEAN-PHILIPPE, age 32,  Guadeloupe, French Antilles

DSC_7700It is a GO !!! Insurance, Seneca qualify., passport, Visa, a bag and I am gone FLYING !  I have been confirmed as part of the Piper Seneca II team and co-pilot IFR support to Juan Francisco Asenjo from Montreal, Canada. I’m from Guadeloupe. I lived in  Montréal for 3 years during which I took my CPL ME IR and finished  last September at Air Richelieu flight school. I have 205h total time, 110 PIC, 50h night, 22h instruments and 16h ME.  I’m about to get my FAA  commercial pilot license. Coming onboard the Caribbean air Challenge will help me build my hours. I want to thank Aviation Connection for giving me this opportunity and of course Juan Francisco Asenjo from Montreal for accepting me oUntitled-1nboard his beautiful piper Seneca and for being my Mentor.  




Pete R. BEAUDRY, Santa Rosa, California, Age 22

118_DSC1191Where do I even begin to talk about my start in aviation… my father (Robert Beaudry) is a Captain for American Airlines and honestly I did not think I wanted to follow in his foot steps, I knew I loved to travel and experience new cultures.  However, the road to a career in aviation seemed so overwhelming!  Then he bought himself a small tail dragger and it snowballed from there. I soloed at the age of 17 in the Aeronca Champ 90 horsepower tail dragger aircraft and moved my way up slowly to bigger and more powerful aircraft. Now at the age of 22 I have my Multi Engine, Instrument Commercial and Single Instrument with over 600 hours total time 110 Multi Engine, 375 cross country, 110 Instrument and 175 hours of night flight, etc…  I have met so many people along my journey in aviation who have reached out and helped me either build time, or shown me how to better myself and my piloting skills.  This journey is far from over and I want to pinch myself after every flight… just to make sure I am not dreaming.  I’m at the threshold of an airline job and flying over 10 hours a week in multiple types of aircraft.  The gratitude I want to show these people who either let me fly there aircraft or have me along as a safety pilot I will forever be in there debt. Once I heard I was being considered to come along as a first officer on board a Cherokee Six on the way down from Montreal Canada to the Bahamas I was just about sure this whole thing was just a dream and I was going to wake up any second.  Today was the day I got word that I had been chosen… today was also the day I knew I had what it takes to make it as a professional pilot in the airline arena… Just graduated college and right on track with where I want to be.  Though I want to make it very clear that without these people in my life who have helped me along the way… None of this would have been possible.  I’m just a kid who worked hard and showed my passion for aviation.  If someone told me this is where I would be five years ago, I would never believe them. There is nothing more I could ask for at this stage in my life, its really a dream come true thus far… Going to keep working hard and studying!  Of course enjoy the ride aviation is giving me.Untitled-1



Carlo PELIGRETTI, Italia, Flight instructor, commercial/Instrument pilot  25

_DSC0234Carlo took his commercial and instrument certifications at the ATA Flight Academy in Pembrokes Pines, Florida. Mike Punziano, Flight Academy owner highly recommended Carlo who joined the 2011 Air Rally to be flight support to a participant from Holland and his wife.








  1. Pingback: Mathieu Leclerc | Aviation Connection - April 11, 2013

  2. Pingback: Anthony Lebailly | Aviation Connection - April 11, 2013

  3. Pingback: Lara Harmon | Aviation Connection - April 11, 2013

  4. Pingback: About The Correspondant | Aviation Connection - April 11, 2013

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