Daily Archives: 02/05/2011

Wild Guyana – by Mike Charles

Wild Guyana – by Mike Charles

Mike Charles has been a helicopter pilot in Guyana for over 25 years. The three (3) DVDs;  (1) Guyana Yours to Discover, (2) Wild Guyana, and the most recent release (3) Pictures of Guyana include unique footage as recorded by Mike Charles and presented in spectacular, unscripted form.

Please go to his web site and see the videos and buy his DVD’s.

Website:   http://www.wildguyana.com/

Rapping with Mike Charles

Written by Parvati Persaud-Edwards (Guyana Chronicle online)

Mike Charles’ story is one of dedication, determination and duty to country.

Mike Charles was born to parents who pursued an ordinary, simple lifestyle, and lived at Soesdyke on the East Bank of Demerara.

After graduating from Covent Garden Secondary School, Charles joined the Guyana Defence Force in 1981 as a cadet officer. He was then 18 yrs old.

At the age of nineteen he had attained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant and was appointed officer-in-charge of a location on the Guyana-Venezuelan border twice between 1982 and in the first quarter of 1984.

Recalling the danger-filled environment, Charles said that he had to assert maximum control in order to maintain discipline of junior ranks much older than himself at those remote border locations.

However, in that alien environment, where he walked the trails in equal measure with his men, he retained the respect of the men because he was not an authoritarian figure, but interrelated well with the men under his command, without losing or compromising his authority.

In 1984, Charles was one of eleven (11) officers the army sent to be trained as pilots at Flight Safety International, which is located at Vero Beach in Florida, USA. Charles was trained as a helicopter and an aeroplane pilot.

Charles is the only pilot who remained with the GDF to serve his country.

Upon completion of his aviation training he was eventually assigned to fly a series of helicopters operated by the GDF. The Bell-412 was one of those helicopters, which he asserts is the best helicopter he has ever flown.

He recalled one incident a few years ago, when he was flying President Jagdeo and an entourage to various parts of the country during a meet-the-people tour by the President and some of his ministers.

Recalling what he describes as one of the most harrowing flights of his career, Charles said that, after the President had met with people at Black Bush Polder and at Ithaca, it started to get dark and he had not completed his itinery.

It was after sunset and many people were still waiting to meet President Jagdeo at Bath Settlement on the West Coast of Berbice. The President was adamant about not disappointing the people, despite the fact that the designated landing area, which was the Bath Community Centre Ground, had been completely flooded out due to heavy rainfall.

Charles landed in an empty lot along the roadside instead – an exercise which involved dextrous manoeuvrings to avoid coming into contact with electrical wires and trees, which enabled the President to meet with a wildly-enthusiastic crowd which had waited patiently for hours for that meeting.

However, despite the aircraft being fully-equipped to fly at night, the prevailing conditions in the empty lot were not conducive for a safe takeoff with a full load, so while the President and his aides were conducting the meeting, Charles lifted off from the confined space of the empty lot and landed on the public roadway, which gave him greater leverage for takeoff with a full load of passengers.

He said that villagers came out with torches and assisted in stopping the traffic long enough for the operation to be successfully completed.

Charles recalled another instance when he had to sacrifice personal considerations for duty.

He said that he had been flying the President back to Georgetown after he had seen Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, off at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri, when he observed that the funeral cortege of his father was winding its way from Georgetown to their family home in Soesdyke on the East Bank of Demerara.

He nevertheless completed his duty before returning home for his father’s funeral, with no-one being any the wiser of his personal ordeal.

Charles is extremely regretful that the Bell 412 helicopter, with which he has shared many exciting adventures, is sitting idly in a hangar at Timehri.

He is adamant that the Bell 412 should not be sold or traded as is intended because it is still the best helicopter Guyana has ever owned and can still serve this country for many more years into the future.

He is currently crusading for the Bell 412 to be retained by this Government because he is fully convinced that the helicopter would be hard to replace – costwise, and also because of its peculiar capabilities.  He considers that it would be a historic aviation mistake if we get rid of the Bell 412 helicopter.

Mike Charles, after a stint of approximately thirty years with the army, having attained the position of the most senior Helicopter pilot in the GDF, is due for retirement in 2010.

The adventures of Mike Charles are the stuff of little boys’ dreams and would fill several volumes, and this newspaper intends to serialize those stories so that they can be recorded for posterity.

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