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Oct 10, 2018

Popular Pilot Missing; Feared Dead After Plane Crash in Panama

Jose Milo Paz

Believed to be missing and feared dead, well-known pilot forty-nine-year-old Jose Milo Paz has not been seen or heard from since Sunday. His family in San Pedro Town has been bombarded with messages of condolences and sympathies. On Tuesday night, reports surfaced that Paz died in a plane crash on Sunday evening somewhere in the mountains of Panama. Paz, who has over thirty years of experience as a pilot, took time off from Tropic Air where he worked to pilot a private charter on Sunday after which the crash occurred. It is said that Paz’s charred remains were discovered along with the remains of another individual. With no official identification or confirmation, the Paz family in San Pedro Town is clinging to hope that he will return home, walk through the doors and greet them. But as the days go by, their hopes have begun diminishing.  News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.


Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

Where is Jose Milo Paz? The popular San Pedrano pilot with thirty years of experience has not been heard from or seen since Sunday. Reports of his disappearance surfaced on Tuesday night on social media, taking off with such a speed that by next morning messages of condolences to the family were being expressed. The family, however, is clinging to hope that Paz is still alive, especially since not of the online reports have been officially confirmed by either Belizean or Panamanian authorities. Unconfirmed online reports suggest that Paz perished in a plane crash somewhere near Panama on Sunday evening. According to reports, Paz took time off from his employment to pilot a private plane from Panama. Further reports suggest that the plane crashed somewhere in the mountains of the Central America country, killing Paz and another person who was in the aircraft.


Voice of: Javier Williams, Brother-in-law

We got a called that there was an accident somewhere. At that point, we did not know if it was in the country or out of the country. All we know now is from what we have been hearing was that there was a plane crash around Panama. I guess Milo was the pilot. There was another pilot in there. But there is no confirmation as we do not have anybody or anything to prove that it was Milo. I know his wife has contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we are waiting for a response from them.”


Paz was much liked and known in San Pedro. He is described as a caring and easy going man who loved his community. In 2010, Paz was part of an organized group, looking for thirty-seven-year-old Maria Plaza, a missing flight attendant who was murdered.


Jose Milo Paz

Jose Milo Paz, Missing [File: November 2nd, 2010]

The young lady left Corona Del Mar at seven-fifty-eight and we know that because it is on their video surveillance camera.


More recently, in April of this year, Paz who is considered an aviation pioneer raised issues concerning the Belize City Municipal Airstrip.


Jose Milo Paz [File: April 20th, 2018]

As you know, I have been flying since 1988 and I have a little bit of experience.  The municipal airstrip, after it was redone and the investment was done, the main runway started to sink just like Caye Caulker, except that this one started to sink just over a year now and it was very, very bad that this weekend they had to close down to do some emergency repairs.”


While Paz’s death has not been confirmed, politicians such as Manuel Heredia Junior, Tracey Taegar Panton, Francis Fonseca, and San Pedro Mayor Daniel Guerrero have all expressed deepest sympathies and condolences on the “passing” of Paz. His employer, Tropic Air President, John Grief the Third even spoke of Paz in the past tense.


John Grief III

John Grief III, President, Tropic Air

He owned his own airplane and was one of the pioneers in the San Pedro-Tikal day tour. In those days Tropic and Milo would take a load of passengers to Tikal, wait all day with them and then bring them back. He was a pioneer in that. He was a smart businessman; he was involved in money changing at one time before the rules changed. He was on time off on Tropic and we just got confirmation that it is confirmed that he is dead in a plane crash that side.”


Until official confirmation is provided of Paz’s death, his family has hopes that he would reappear alive and well.


Voice of: Javier Williams

“We are hoping that everything that we have heard it is not true, that he is still alive and that we will see him walking through the door. We are all hopeful that he will come home, come back; walk through that door with that big smile.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo


Paz survived an accident twenty years ago. He put his piloting duties on pause for sometime before returning to his skies and becoming one of the most senior pilots at Tropic Air and in Belize. According to Tropic Air President John Grief the Third, Paz was on a life insurance plan and even though he was not on duty at the time of the crash, his insurance will be paid.

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