The Sky is the Limit
Bonaire is going through a time of change. Due to fear of losing its identity and independence, the island and its people are filled with doubt and reluctant to embrace the ever tightening web of new rules and regulations. But the changes are not all bad. When you have a closer look at the new generation who are stepping into the work force, you can’t help but feel positive about the future.
The new generation of Bonaireans who embrace these developments and the possibilities they bring are a strong-willed, passionate, energetic and yet, humble, people. With a growing and developing island economy, new career options present themselves and make it possible for many young people to return to their island and their tight knit families and still work on their careers.
A Lifelong Dream
Timothy Vaseur, 23, is a good example of a power generation to come. The Bonairean had his first flight even before his birth, when complications made it necessary for his mother to give birth in Curacao. His family is convinced that this early experience gave direction to his life’s destiny.
For as long as Timothy can remember, he always wanted to become a pilot. Growing up in Rincon with his whole family around, he remembers his uncle, a KLM pilot, visiting them from the Netherlands and leaving the biggest impression on young Timothy. Ever since, it became his dream to become a pilot on the KLM Boeing 747, in those days the biggest plane to land on Bonaire.
As an only child, his parents made sure to teach their son the values in life, something he is very grateful for. Learning to work for the things he wanted, choosing and not just receiving everything he asked for and sharing with other children within the wider family was one of the most important life lessons and enabled Timothy to appreciate life and its circumstances.
The wakeup call
While he was an excellent student, he started to struggle in the VVO level when he was a teenager. He and his close friends lost their focus and the problems within the school organization didn’t really help. After repeating a year, he still struggled. After the second attempt, he was only allowed in the lower HAVO level. His parents, who always supported his dreams, urged him to take his education seriously or they would not support his pilot career. This became a wakeup call for him and with new focus he successfully completed his education.
At school he formed a tight group of friends who all wanted to become pilots. Besides playing on flight simulators, the group went to the airport to watch the planes with their binoculars and, on the platform they had chosen as their club house, they tried to listen to the tower commands.
Frankin Antoin Junior was the oldest and most experienced one in this club and took on the role as mentor and leader of the enthusiastic group of boys, realizing the need for more structured support, he became one of the founders of Falki Aviation
Becoming a Pilot
Up until this time, the only real flight Timothy had ever taken was in 2007, when he received a pilot lesson over the island as a birthday present. Flying with Richard Burger, a bush pilot, was an experience he will never forget.
Since a pilot license is not subsidized, it is up to the student and their parents to finance the career.
While finishing school, he collected information about the different options and selected two programs in the United States. Together with his parents, he visited the schools and they made their choice.
In a year and a half, Timothy received his private pilot license, instrument rating, commercial pilot, multi-engine and instructor license. Even though the latter was not really his cup of tea, he decided it was good to become an instructor to secure a long term career in the aviation industry.
Timothy stayed in contact with Franklin and when he was offered an instructor position in the US, he decided to return to the island where they needed an instructor too.
Moments that count
When he returned to Bonaire as a licensed pilot, he first went to see one of his granddads who brought him up as a child and who had fallen seriously ill. His granddad had always believed and motivated him. To be able to show him that he had made it, just two months before he died, was something very important to him.
From Student to Teacher
Becoming an instructor turned out to be the right choice. Making his hours and getting great feedback from his students made it something he learned to enjoy. Just having the opportunity to be up in the air remains a feeling of excitement and content. Sharing it with enthusiastic students just makes it better. Timothy can proudly say that he has produced his first licensed pilots for Bonaire.
Another fun incident was that, after many years, he met Richard Burgers, the pilot with whom he had his first ever flight. On a review flight, a biannual checkup necessary to keep your license, this time Timothy went as Richard’s instructor.
The club Franklin started, first in Curacao and later, because of the great demand, on Bonaire, grew and developed into something bigger. In 2015, the former club was registered as Falki Aviation Bonaire, a nonprofit foundation stimulating and motivating growth of the aviation profession on the islands.
Timothy for President
Falki Aviation Bonaire now has about 30 members and Timothy managed the club’s matters on Bonaire before he became the foundation’s President.
The foundation tries to help and assist the young on their way to more fun and/or a career option.
How you can help
Since the young pilots need to make their flight hours, a very expensive part of the license, the foundation offers lessons around the island and to everyone on the neighboring islands. By taking this fun chance of an assisted flying experience, you also support the young pilots in making their needed hours in a more affordable way.
Timothy is teaching the students ground school lessons and acts as their instructor on the flights before they go off to become licensed pilots. The foundation also mentors and assists the young students in selecting the right school.
The BIA (Bonaire International Airport) management has been very supportive of the foundation and its activities and have signed an agreement to keep the airport cost for the foundation low for the next several years.
The Falki Avaiation members would love to have a new platform. After the construction work on the airport property, their old platform was destroyed. Having a new spotting platform would be one of their biggest wishes come true. The board will now work on a plan to present to BIA and hope they will accept their plan.
What to come
Timothy, who also has a part time job at Bonaire Air Services, handling passengers and supervising the ramp, is looking to further his own career too. Right now the next step would be a small jet to make his jet hours and he is looking into Aruba’s new airline or in St Maarten. Later he would love to be the captain of a big commercial plane, preferably a KLM plane, but he would go anyplace in the world to make his dream come true. But for now, Timothy is happy with his accomplishments so far and enjoys every minute he is up in the sky where he is the closest to his dreams and enjoys the feeling of freedom.
Falki Aviation Bonaire (FAB)
FAB offers several aviation courses given by experts and professionals. Good communication, consideration of others, task management and crew resource management are some of the courses provided.
Being able to fly an airplane is a dream of any child. Due to the complexity and high costs of flying, it became a nightmare for a lot of people. FAB’s mission is focused on those who can’t finance their training.
Get in touch
If you cannot cover the costs of being a pilot, FAB still has something for you. They offer possibilities to, at least, get in touch with airplanes. You can, for example, offer to wash planes once a week. In order to compensate for this they offer a short flight with a certified instructor. These hours can be logged in your logbook.
FAB promotes safety to their members. With their designed safety videos and material, the instructors explain several areas of safety and how to prevent and deal with circumstances that might present themselves.
JOIN FALKI AVIATION
WELCOME ON BOARD!
If you are feeling committed, and want to join the organization, you can fill out the form on their website. The acceptance team will contact you within three (3) business days to invite you for a welcome chat and explain the policies and procedures. Keep in mind that you do not need to be a pilot to join. Everybody with a certain ambition for aviation, can become a member.
E mail firstname.lastname@example.org