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An aviation club that's spreading its wings

Samuel Neil goes higher in fulfilling lifelong dream

BY SHANAE STEWART
Staff reporter
stewarts@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, June 16, 2019

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SAMUEL Neil, 25, fulfilled his bright idea of forming The Aviation Club of Jamaica and the Caribbean in October 2006 at Meadowbrook High School when he could not find a club to join as an extra-curricular activity.

The idea to formulate the club came when he realised that he was not interested in any of those that were at his school at the time.

According to Neil, he saw a need and decided to give his best effort to fulfill it.

“While attending Meadowbrook High School my enthusiasm for aviation matured, but there wasn't a medium available at the time to facilitate my growing passion for flying and the aviation industry,” Neil told the Jamaica Observer.

“What was available was limited to summer activities and training programmes, and at the time I wasn't of age to partake in official training programmes and I would have had to wait until summer to partake in the one-month summer programme that was available,” he said.

Neil said that before taking any action, he did an investigation to see if other students in the school were just like him and wanted to have the option of being a part of an aviation club.

“I did some research and found out that there were a handful of other students who I met in grade seven whose interest aligned with mine.

“Following that discovery, I drafted a proposal that the school accepted, went about forming the club, and it all started from there,” he said.

He shared with the Sunday Observer that since the inception of the club, the programme has spread its wings to schools in Kingston & St Andrew, and St Catherine.

“We had and still do have weekly meetings for our high school members. Each weekly meeting consists of activities, learning sessions, visits from aviation professionals, and even occasional field trips to airports.

“Since the beginning, our members have been able to not only experience aviation from various aspects but have also become aviation professionals,” he said, and that to date, there are club members who have transitioned from being enthusiasts to aerospace engineers, pilots, flight attendants, and aviation managers.

He also shared that even though the idea was originally to only facilitate students, he now has an extended branch of the programme.

“Lately, we have expanded our reach to prospective members of the general public. University students, and just anyone who is interested in aviation and would like to widen their knowledge are welcomed to join our programme so they can fuel their enthusiasm and ultimately be placed on a path to achieving their various aviation goals.

“Meetings are held at the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC) in St Andrew every second and last Saturday of each month,” he said.

He also noted that throughout the years, the organisation established a scholarship programme with a university called the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida.

The scholarship programme is available to members of The Aviation Club of Jamaica, where there are guaranteed US$10,000 out of their total tuition per year to attend the university. Approximately nine people have benefited thus far.


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