Caymanian leads the way for more local police pilots

| 17/03/2022 | 12 Comments
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): Darren McLean, an auxiliary constable with the RCIPS, is on the final leg of his journey to becoming the first Caymanian pilot for the police helicopter, the RCIPS has said. But while he is the first local person to train to become a pilot with the police, he will not be the last, as the RCIPS is developing the position of trainee pilot to create a path for more Caymanians.

Next month McLean is heading back to Trinidad and Tobago, where he has been on secondment since early 2019, to finish his helicopter pilot training programme with National Helicopters to meet the demands of flying with the RCIPS.

The RCIPS Air Operations Unit has become an integral part of the RCIPS, supporting Customs and Border Control and the Cayman Islands Coast Guard, conducting a variety of operations, from drug interdiction to search and rescue.

McLean joined the RCIPS AOU in 2017 and was soon certified as a tactical flight officer with the crew of the police helicopter. He had already obtained a commercial pilot’s licence for rotorcraft but would need further training in order to meet the requirements to fly for the RCIPS.

“Darren is working for National Helicopters as part of their training programme, flying and learning on helicopters even larger and more complex than what the RCIPS currently operates,” said Inspector Neil Mohammed, who is set to take over as head of the AOU when Steve Fitzgerald, the current head, retires.

“Darren has been conducting various types of flights under very strict parameters. As well as oil and gas industry flights, he has also been doing medivacs and casualty evacuations, providing VIP support, and supporting law enforcement. With this arrangement Darren is able to consistently gain experience and hours, while National Helicopters adds another talented pilot to their ranks for an extended period of time,” he added.

Mohammed said the team at National Helicopters had described McLean as one of their best trainee pilots. But the journey has not been without its setbacks as the emergence of COVID-19 in early 2020 meant the flight operations of the company were significantly scaled back, limiting McLean’s flying hours and extending his time away from Cayman.

“It’s always hard being away from home and my family, but being on my own, having to deal with COVID, all the lockdown restrictions, and knowing that I couldn’t fly as much was pretty difficult,” said McLean. “But I’m just thankful that even though I couldn’t be with them, I still had their support the whole time, so I never felt like I was truly on my own.”

“We’ve stayed in regular contact with Darren throughout his time in Trinidad and Tobago,” said Steve Fitzgerald, head of the Air Operations Unit. “We know that there have been ups and downs over the course of his journey. However, we always make sure to offer whatever mentorship we can as his training continues. We also get regular reports from National Helicopters, and can see the continued progress he’s making, so we know he’s well on track to reaching his goal.”

When he returns, McLean and the team will be developing the new position of trainee pilot for other aspiring Caymanian helicopter pilots. “We want to have a process in place so that others can follow in Darren’s footsteps,” said Fitzgerald. “But they will have to prove themselves, work hard, and show they have the aptitude and the dedication.”

McLean said “I want to inspire someone else to see what I’m doing and want to do the same,” says Darren. “They should know that even though it’s hard, it’s not impossible.”

See more about the helicopter unit on the RCIPS website here.


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Category: Crime, Police

Comments (12)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Score one for the home team, but most of us don’t care where the pilots come from, so long as they are not joy-riding on our dime, and hovering over residential homes out of boredom. Cayman needs to put into place minimum altitude restrictions for our local airspace, unless in the mode of (a) mosquito control, or (b) active pursuit.

  2. Gern Blenston says:

    Well done young man.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Congrats!
    But isn’t Mohammed also a Caymanian?
    Or is that only used when its convenient?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well done Darren, bright young man!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Well done lad.

    • Anonymous says:

      A Caymanian helicopter pilot. A Caymanian pilot flying the mosquito plane, A caymanian fire chief, a Caymanian female in charge of Hazard Management and the list goes on.

      Who do we blame for this.

  6. Not to be kept quite says:

    Be careful guy, just like they did the Coast Guard guys they kicked out who would not be liars and told the truth, when it comes time to stand up and be counted, you need to think about your integrity.

    • Anonymous says:

      The can and does happen in any govt. entity and private sector company, it’s your own personal ethics vs company ethics. Some just don’t have a conscience and go with the flow. Hopefully Mr. McLean can navigate the politics and gain valuable experience. He can then choose what is most comfortable for him. It’s a tragic shame that most bright young starters end up being forced out of their homeland for better employers.

      • Anonymous says:

        Or the lure of megabucks in US wins. After all he’s had free training thanks to CIG!

      • Anonymous says:

        The ‘Yes Men’ by and large do seem to thrive in the large organisations here and elsewhere. That is why they end up in the mess they do, with the talent and bright minds leaving to greener pastures. The recent public scene of Putin on TV with his lieutenants, clearly illustrate how his ‘Yes Men’ are afraid to tell him he is going down the wrong path with Ukraine. The best leaders always welcome challengers to their decisions and have understood that My Way Or The Highway does not work.

    • Anonymous says:

      Congratulations Mr McLean! Does make me wonder how some members of the police force get promoted running around in false grey beards and hair following people – not at all trying to be under cover LOL Not to mention others for reasons they know! Guess that’s why they do get promoted – honesty! LOL

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