The plan for the day, a short flight to Little Cayman Island. Sian is working her way through the expansive and busy Cayman Brac airport. Yes, this is the entire airport.
Our trusty steed for this Journey will be one of Cayman Airways Twin Otters (They have two). The Twin Otter is classified as a Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) aircraft so it is perfect for the short runway in Little Cayman. Some Canadian history for you; the Twin Otter is a Canadian designed plane and is now manufactured in my home town, Calgary. I went on a tour of the factory some time ago but they wouldn’t let me take pictures to share with you guys.
As we walk out to the Otter we pass by the airports emergency services trucks. They look ready for action, but I doubt get used very often, if ever. A more typical emergency in Cayman Brac would be running out of rum.
A closer look at the Twin Otter. Sian makes her way under the enormous wings (that is how it takes off in such a short distance). Also note that the crew all stand in the planes shadow, this is the Caribbean after all and the sun can be a wee bit warm at times.
Ever wondered what the interior of a Canadian designed Twin Otter aircraft looks like? Wonder no more friends! Those crafty Canadians solved the problem of people fighting for overhead bin space. In flight entertainment is watching the pilots do their thing (which for someone like me is pretty awesome).
And away we go. The short take off capabilities of the Twin Otter gets us airborne in no time at all. Today’s flight is scheduled to be a solid 7 minutes flying time; you read that correctly, a 7 minute flight, what could possibly go wrong?
We are already a good bit above the island of Cayman Brac. The small blue building in the lower left hand corner is the airport terminal.
As we gain elevation you get a good view of almost the entire island of Cayman Brac (It is a solid 19Km long). The house we rented is on the coast on the right hand side of the photo. The plane pulls a U-turn as Little Cayman is in the other direction. At this point in time, we are about 2 minutes into the flight, or almost half way there.
So long Cayman Brac! It was right as I took this photo that the pilot of the plane kept turning around and looking directly at me. He did this a few more times and then immediately turns the plane around and starts heading back to Cayman Brac where we had just left from minutes ago (you can even see the runway near the tip of the island in this pic). I wondered what I had done, but there is no question at this point, he is not flying us to Little Cayman but returning to where we came from.
After we land back where we started in Cayman Brac the two pilots jump out of the aircraft and leave us behind. Uhhhhh guys? Should I be getting out too? Should I deploy the escape slide? (turns out there isn’t one) Ummmmm, is this bad? This seems bad. Guess I’ll just take this photo instead.
Eventually, the pilots return with a ladder and explain that the oil fill door on the engine popped open mid flight. The pilot wasn’t looking at me (as I thought) but looking back threw my window at the engine. The open door on the engine is what prompted the pilots to turn the plane around as facilities for repair in Little Cayman are non-existent. Even this ladder they are using may have been hard to come by in Little Cayman. They re-attached the door and we should be on our way again (sorry about the blurry photo, it’s the best one I have).
Head office at Cayman Airways was informed of this little incident and decided that having a pilot and ground grew repair an aircraft wouldn’t cut it. So back to the airport terminal we go while we wait for an aircraft Mechanic to be flown in to inspect the engine. Not surprisingly, on an island with only 2000 inhabitants, none of them are aircraft mechanics so one has to be flown in. Although the delay is frustrating, my neighbor (in Calgary) is an aircraft mechanic and tells me he is very impressed by Cayman Airways commitment to safety.
And so here we are, back where we started, the Cayman Brac Airport. Waiting for an aircraft Mechanic and some fuel as apparently we used up the fuel indented for our trip and need to get a top up. Side Note: Cayman Brac gets one flight from Miami each week, which is why it qualifies to call itself an “International Airport”.
SPOILER ALERT! The second attempt to make the 7 minute flight to Little Cayman was successful (Little Cayman pictured here). Even more reassuring was that the mechanic who inspected the aircraft jumped on the flight with us. I would have been a bit concerned if he didn’t “I’ll just catch the next flight”. More on Little Cayman next time….

1 Comment

Chris · December 28, 2019 at 11:08 pm

Loved it. I always thought kelowna was my perfect flight at 50 mins but 7 mins beats it all.

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