Sun | Jun 7, 2020

Pilot gives Patois welcome before dream landing in Kgn

Published:Monday | January 13, 2020 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/Staff Reporter
Marlon Dayes on his maiden flight to his homeland, Jamaica, on Saturday.

It is just two weeks into the New Year, but Jamaica-born pilot Marlon Dean Dayes has achieved his main goal for 2020 of flying to his homeland for the first time.

The 26-year-old Portland native has described the experience as “priceless” and used his journey to remind others that dreams really do come true.

On Saturday morning, Dayes assisted with landing a Delta Air Lines Boeing 737 aircraft carrying more than 150 passengers at the same airport where, as a five-year-old, his dreams of one day flying an airplane started.

“When I got over Cuba and I saw Jamaica in sight, I really can’t describe it. It just took me down memory lane when I remember going to the waving gallery at Norman Manley and watching planes take off, and I couldn’t believe that I was actually doing this right now. I was actually flying back to my country,” Dayes told The Gleaner shortly after landing at Kingston’s international airport.

“It was a very, very emotional moment. I never cried, but I was close to it when I got to the gate,” he said.

Dayes spent his earlier years in Buff Bay, Portland, before going to Kingston, where he attended Wolmer’s Boys’ School. He eventually migrated to the United States and studied aviation management at Florida Tech University. He became a private pilot at 19 and went commercial three years later.

Prior to flying on Saturday morning, Dayes had asked the captain for the honour of welcoming the passengers aboard the craft and introducing himself.

“I threw a little bit of the Patois in the announcement but nothing too much,” he said.

The reception he got after announcing that he was about to fly a plane to Jamaica for the first time made the occasion even more emotional.

“Everybody complimented me, and you know Jamaicans, they applauded. ... Once they were deplaning, everybody was hugging me up and taking selfies and pictures, and even the tourists, they were like, ‘Good job. I am proud of you for coming back home,’” he said.

Dayes ensured that he got up extra early on Saturday for the 7:50 a.m. flight. While pilots are typically required to be on board their aircraft at least 30 minutes early, he got there shortly after six.

Proudly carrying flag

In his planning the night before, he ensured that he also packed his Jamaican flag, which he proudly displayed once he landed. The memorabilia has accompanied him on all his trips, but he admitted that he actually ironed it prior to his Jamaican trip.

“It still has some crush on it because I had to fold it to bring it with me, but I didn’t want it completely crushed for the picture,” he told The Gleaner.

Dayes had hoped to have his mom on board to witness the special occasion because as a single mother, she has been his biggest cheerleader. However, she had to remain in Florida to take care of his grandmother, who is ill. Despite her absence, he found that there were several persons on board cheering him on.

“There was this lady on the flight that was coming off, and she kind of reminded me of my grandmother. She said, ‘Young man, in my 91 years on Earth, this is one of my proudest days,” he said, describing one of his most memorable moments.

Being slated to pilot the Boeing 737 aircraft to Jamaica so early in the year came as a complete surprise to Dayes. He had hoped to amass more hours flying the much larger aircraft although he had made prior trips to countries such as Canada, Mexico, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“It is a dream come true, something I have always wanted to do,” he said.