GEORGE TOWN, Grand Cayman–National flag carrier Cayman Airways Ltd. could enter a new phase of expansion during 2014 that could include new routes to Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia. The airline was established and started operations on August 7th, 1968. It was formed following the Cayman Government’s purchase of 51% of Cayman Brac Airways from LACSA (the now defunct Costa Rican flag carrier) and became wholly government owned in December 1977. A few months after it was formed, Cayman Airways flew its first international route to Kingston, Jamaica leasing a LACSA BAC-111-500. The airline acquired its first jet aircraft in 1978 and began services to Houston. In 1982 the airline acquired a Boeing 727-200 aircraft to strengthen the airline’s regional and international capability, also allowing for the introduction of first class service. These jets were eventually replaced with Boeing 737-300 series, and during the 1980s Cayman Airways offered scheduled or charter service to Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Newark, New York, Philadelphia, & St. Louis. As the national flag carrier for the Cayman Islands, Cayman Airways now operates non-stop Boeing 737 jet service between Grand Cayman and the following major US cities: Miami and Tampa, Florida; Washington DC; New York, New York; and Chicago, Illinois. Nonstop jet service is also provided between Grand Cayman and regional destinations, including: Kingston and Montego Bay, Jamaica; Havana, Cuba; and La Ceiba, Honduras.The airline’s Cayman Airways Express service also operates Twin Otter aircrafts between Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac.
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–December 30th. At the age of 92 years, Captain Otto Escalante Wiepking died, closing a golden chapter of the Costa Rican Civil Aviation. He was only seven years old when Charles Lindbergh visited Costa Rica in the “Spirit of St. Louis” and since then he knew deep inside his life would be connected with aviation. In 1939 a young Otto Escalante graduates from highschool and a year later starts working for TACA Costa Rica in the cargo department. Once the United States joins the Allies in the Second World War, the American pilots flying in Latin America were all requested to join the armed forces, opening the possibilities for young latin men to become commercial pilots. Otto Escalante travels to the U.S. and in a year becomes a commercial pilot. Escalante showed such professionalism, the United States Government gave him a scholarship at the Sky Harbour School of Aeronautics in Phoenix, Arizona. He returned to Costa Rica and works in several airlines like TACA Costa Rica and AVO. On March 12th 1948 he travels to Guatemala with Captain Guillermo Nuñez, flying two Douglas DC-3s. A day after Escalante and Nuñez returned to Costa Rica, the DC-3s heavy full of weapons and ammunition for Jose Figueres Ferrer’s National Liberation Army. In 1949 Otto Escalante returned to flag carrier LACSA and in 1960 he is appointed General Manager for the airline. Captain Escalante flew LACSA’s first jet in April 1967, a BAC-111-400 named “El Tico” and he kept working as a pilot until 1972 when he became CEO and President of the Board of Directors. Otto Escalante also founded Cayman Brac Airways (later Cayman Airways Ltd.) as a subsidiary of LACSA and was also SANSA’s President until he retired in 1989. Captain Escalante also served as a consultant for Aero Costa Rica S.A. (the other national airline that operated from 1992 to 1997). Today a great chapter of the civil aviation in this small nation is closed with a golden seal, that of a pioneer indeed.