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Dec 7, 2005

Belize celebrates International Civil Aviation Day in style

Story PictureResidents of Belize City might have noticed that for most of today the sky above us was filled with helicopters, B.D.F. Defenders, and even a couple of parachutes. As News Five’s Janelle Chanona reports, all that airborne activity was in recognition of International Civil Aviation Day.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
As part of official activities commemorating International Civil Aviation Day, the Department of Civil Aviation today launched its public awareness campaign at B.T.L. Park in Belize City, complete with a look back at the history of aviation in Belize, visual presentations by members of the sector, flights by the Belize Defence Force, and even a couple of rough landings by skydivers.

Jose Contreras, Director of Civil Aviation
?Civil aviation is, we take care of aircraft, flight safety oversight, in fact, when Belize signed the convention on Civil Aviation in 1991, we were committed to comply with the eighteen annexes that are in the convention. And those comprised of various disciplines of civil aviation from personal licensing up to the safe transport of dangerous goods by air, and that together with air transport makes civil aviation.?

According to Director of Civil Aviation, Jose Contreras, from the time the first plane landed in Belize on Newtown Barracks in 1921 to the hustle and bustle of commercial traffic today; there have been remarkable advances in technology and expertise on the ground.

Jose Contreras
?We are looking in the very near future to have a new set of regulations so that we can have a better compliance with all the annexes of the International Civil Aviation Organization.?

Janelle Chanona
?Specifically in what areas??

Jose Contreras
?In all the areas, all disciplines in civil aviation. I say again, from personal licensing, which is number one, all the way up to the safe transport of dangerous goods by air.?

As part of the event, students from schools across the city came face to face with the men and women of civil aviation and some even got to participate in an aerial tour of the city, courtesy of the two helicopter companies now operating in Belize.

Today, there are more than two hundred flights a day in Belize in local and international traffic… Marsha Hinkson is just one of the pair of eyes on the ground that help uphold Belize?s safety and security standards. But in a male dominated industry, this morning Hinkson encouraged other women get onboard.

Marsha Hinkson, Air Traffic Controller, P.G.I.A.
?It?s not that easy, I very rarely wear skirts as I am doing today, but that?s not a part of it. What we do in traffic, we are basically behind the scenes, to an extent you look at yourself as a radio controller, you are somebody using the radio to do your controls, talking to the pilots, getting them to where they want to go safe and sound, providing the information to them and traffic, all that stuff. That?s what we do in the tower.?

Janelle Chanona
?Marsha, if you could recommend one thing to make civil aviation better from your perspective, what would it be??

Marsha Hinkson
?More female controllers, power to us! We mainly ask for the sciences, mathematics, Spanish is very important, we are surrounded by Spanish speaking countries.?

Reporting for News Five, I am Janelle Chanona.

International Civil Aviation Day has been celebrated globally since 1994.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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