The tale of Cayman Airways Limited (CAL) is one of perseverance and dedication. The little airline that could, so to speak. And as CAL celebrates an extraordinary anniversary, it’s imperative to highlight the team who has been so paramount to its success. One such employee is Glenn McLean, who has worked with Cayman Airways for more than 40 years.
Born for Flight
Mr. McLean was born in Grand Cayman and joined Cayman Airways in the mid-1970s. Prior to coming on board at CAL, he worked as a night telephone operator. But seeking a change in industry and opportunities to advance, he connected with friends working at the airline — and they encouraged him to apply.
In 1974, he was hired as a flight attendant. At the time, Cayman Airways was partially owned by Costa Rica’s LACSA Airlines and was flying routes to the Sister Islands, Miami, Fla., and Kingston, Jamaica. Mr. McLean traversed the skies as a flight attendant for nine years.
In 1983, Mr. McLean transferred to the flight operations team, a department he proudly works in to this day. On New Year’s Day of 1984, Mr. McLean flew to Miami for eight weeks of training at the Sheffield School of Aeronautics. Now located in Fort Lauderdale, at the time the school was located near Miami International Airport. Shortly afterwards, Mr. McLean received his license as an aircraft dispatcher.
A Day’s Work
As an aircraft dispatcher, one’s work day requires a great attention to detail and a great deal of teamwork. In terms of illustrating a typical day however, that’s a bit of a challenge, as each day can vary significantly. A day’s shift could start anywhere from 3:30-11:30am, with team members arriving in stacked intervals throughout a shift. On those early mornings, Mr. McLean candidly offers a valuable piece of advice. “Just make sure you get up on time,” he laughs.
The day could require rising as early as 2:30 in the morning for a pre-dawn shift. But Mr. McLean’s key to a focused work day doesn’t lie within a strong cup of coffee. “I just make sure I get enough rest the night before. Once you get sufficient rest, you should be good for the day.”
Mr. McLean’s work station is at Cayman Airways SOC, or Systems Operation Control. Upon arriving, the team checks the turnover notes from the night before, and ensures that all flight plans and weather packages are up to date before the pilots and crew check in.
Of course, in addition to plenty of energy, the work requires flexibility and agility, as the planning and organisation of a flight schedule can change on a dime. As those from the Caribbean know, weather can be quite fickle indeed, not only in the tropics, but end routes at all of CAL’s gateway hubs. The team works diligently to reroute aircraft to appropriate alternates in the case of inclement weather.
And in an industry that is always on the move, new technological advancements require additional training. Mr. McLean and his team attend recurrent training each year, usually in December, and they are also required to complete mandatory hours of observation flights.
Fishing for the Future
Outside of his work with the airline, Mr. McLean loves to spend time at sea. He enjoys going to the beach with his family and taking to the waves on his boat to catch the freshest of dinners. “Whenever possible, I do some fishing,” he says. “I don’t go very far, so I pretty much end up catching Jacks.” The day’s catch is then brought home and fried, steamed or baked for a delicious family feast. When asked to share his chef secrets, he laughs. “I wouldn’t say chef, but I can make it good enough to eat.”
During CAL’s Golden Year, he looks back over his memories. For Mr. McLean, the airline’s success lies in its people — both current and former staff — who have contributed to its growth and CAL’s loyal guests who have supported their airline over the years. To the Cayman Airways family, his encouragement is forthright and from the heart. “Keep up the good work. Keep on moving forward.”
Author: Jessie Gilmartin
Photographer: Jim Gates