TAST­ING THE SKIES

Ja­maican pi­lot earns cap­taincy at Qatar Air­ways

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - An­dré Poyser Staff Re­porter an­dre.poyser@glean­erjm.com

CAP­TAIN HAN­DEL Welling­ton re­mem­bers vividly the first time he took com­mand of a Boe­ing 777. The route from Doha, Qatar, to Johannesburg, South Africa, was un­known to both him and his first of­fi­cer and proved to be the most dif­fi­cult of his as­sign­ments on one of the largest com­mer­cial air­craft in the fleet of Qatar Air­ways.

“What made it so chal­leng­ing was that it was my very first flight as cap­tain in charge, and I was fly­ing over some very re­mote ar­eas of Africa that the air-traf­fic con­trol com­mu­ni­ca­tion may not have been the best, hav­ing to ap­ply var­i­ous route pro­ce­dures for dif­fer­ent coun­tries in Africa, fly­ing to a high-el­e­va­tion des­ti­na­tion air­port with a high work­load and ro­bust en­vi­ron­ment,” he said in re­sponse to questions from The Gleaner.

That flight took place last month, a few weeks af­ter Welling­ton was pro­moted to the po­si­tion of cap­tain with com­mand of his own air­craft.

Hav­ing started out in avi­a­tion 15 years ago as a load master, he went on to be­come a flight in­struc­tor but was hun­gry for a taste of the skies.

In 2005, he got his first air­line job as a first of­fi­cer on the Em­brear 145 Re­gional Jet, fly­ing for Con­ti­nen­tal Ex­press. He built up his ex­pe­ri­ence there be­fore mov­ing on to Spirit Air­lines, where he got the op­por­tu­nity to be a first of­fi­cer on the Air­bus A320. When the re­ces­sion hit in 2008, he was fur­loughed and it be­came a real strug­gle to find long-term em­ploy­ment, as most air­lines were ei­ther clos­ing or down­siz­ing.

“This led me to eval­u­ate all my avail­able op­tions, one of which was to ex­plore the in­ter­na­tional avi­a­tion mar­ket. Af­ter hav­ing utilised the re­sources of the World Wide Web to search, and re­search­ing many of the dif­fer­ent in­ter­na­tional air­lines, Qatar Air­ways come up as one of the lead­ers in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try. This led to me ap­ply here and gain­ing em­ploy­ment in 2009 as a first of­fi­cer on the Air­bus A320,” he ex­plained to The Gleaner.

PER­FECT FIT

Qatar Air­ways has proven to be the per­fect fit, an ex­pe­ri­ence which Welling­ton de­scribes as ful­fill­ing and re­ward­ing. Af­ter al­most three years with the air­line, he was pro­moted to co-pi­lot the Boe­ing 777. Now six years with the Ara­bian air­line, he has been el­e­vated to cap­tain one of the most revered air­craft in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try.

A com­mit­ted Ad­ven­tist, the 37year-old says he has val­ued the op­por­tu­nity to wor­ship freely at the lo­cal Sev­enth-day Ad­ven­tist Church and also his ex­po­sure to the cos­mopoli­tan cul­ture which typ­i­fies Qatar.

“The lo­cal Ara­bian hospi­tal­ity has been a very en­rich­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for me. We get to work and make friends with peo­ple from a very di­verse ex­pa­tri­ate com­mu­nity. The en­vi­ron­ment, in gen­eral, is very fam­ily ori­ented. My fam­ily and I are able to see and en­gage in sev­eral of the lo­cal ac­tiv­i­ties, such as go­ing to the shop­ping malls, res­tau­rants, go­ing to the San­dunes to do ‘San­dune Bash­ing’, vis­it­ing their lo­cal mu­se­ums and strolling with the fam­ily around the cor­niche,” he said.

LIFE-CHANG­ING CON­VER­SA­TION

A grad­u­ate of Wil­low­dene High, Welling­ton says he owes the in­spi­ra­tion for his avi­a­tion ca­reer to Christo­pher Chin­quee, a for­mer Air Ja­maica pi­lot who sat him down and ex­posed him to the life in the air. That life-chang­ing con­ver­sa­tion led him to en­rol in the pre-en­gi­neer­ing course at North­ern Caribbean Uni­ver­sity be­fore trans­fer­ring over­seas, where he con­tin­ued his en­gi­neer­ing de­gree and com­pleted a bach­e­lor’s in avi­a­tion at the Walla Walla Uni­ver­sity in Wash­ing­ton State.

Ac­cord­ing to Welling­ton, there are many op­por­tu­ni­ties for Jamaicans in Qatar as there are schools seek­ing teach­ers, petroleum com­pa­nies look­ing for engi­neers, and a newly built state-of-the-art hospi­tal which is cur­rently re­cruit­ing nurses from all over the world. He also noted that Qatar Air­ways has a num­ber of po­si­tions open for cabin crew, pilots and man­age­ment staff.

“Qatar is a rich coun­try with a small pop­u­la­tion. There­fore, the ma­jor­ity of po­si­tions in the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors are filled by in­ter­na­tional per­son­nel. If any­one is in­ter­ested in work­ing here, this is a great time, place and op­por­tu­nity to build valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence. Here you can grow cul­tur­ally, in­tel­lec­tu­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally, and be prop­erly re­warded for your hard work with their gen­er­ous com­pen­sa­tion pack­ages,” he said.

The lo­cal Ara­bian hospi­tal­ity has been a very en­rich­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for me. We get to work and make friends with peo­ple from a very di­verse ex­pa­tri­ate com­mu­nity.

Han­del Welling­ton in the cock­pit. Welling­ton’s pro­file

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