Major Brian Lundy of the Jamaica Defence Force uses Instagram to highlight aspects of Jamaica and his passion for flying, family and service.
Q1: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a helicopter pilot?
My name is Major Brian Lundy, and I grew up in a small rural district in St. Catherine, Jamaica called Browns Town. Ironically, my house sits approximately 20 NM as the crow flies directly underneath the final approach path from the Norman Manley International Airport Runway 12. As a result, I was able to see several airplanes going in to land and every so often a helicopter zipping by. Through it all, the thought of becoming a pilot never crossed my mind. I however wanted to become a soldier and that I pursued. My desires brought me to the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and I joined up in 2001 as an enlisted rank; I didn’t at the time possess the necessary qualifications to become an Officer.
During training, an arduous six months of it in the hills of Newcastle, a portion of the Blue Mountain Range, so impressive was my attitude to the training that my direct commanders recommended that I sit the Officer Selection Board. At the end of the training, I completed the Officers’ Selection Board and was successful. I must point out at this juncture that current JDF regulations do not allow enlisted ranks to become pilots, only the Officers are afforded that opportunity.
My Officer training carried me to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2002 where I was lucky enough to be recognized as the Most Outstanding Overseas Cadet, earning for myself a Military Sword donated by the Sheik of Kuwait. I returned home after one year of training and was sent to the JDF Air Wing. At the JDF Air Wing, pilots were fairly limited in numbers as most of them were making the step to commercial aviation. My colleague and I were asked if we were interested in becoming pilots. Having been elevated from the enlisted ranks to becoming an Officer, I was not going to allow this opportunity to pass.
We did our mandatory Pre-abinitio training and were successful. In 2004 whilst the JDF still trained pilots in Portage la Prairie Canada, I commenced my flight training in Sept 2004 flying the Slingsby firefly airplane. I wrapped up my wings training in 2006 as a certified military pilot on the Bell 206B Jet Ranger helicopter…hoorah!! From this point, I would transition home to operate the Bell 412EP as Co-Pilot until I gained higher promotion. Here started my long relationship with Bell helicopters.
Q2: What is your history with Bell aircraft? Jamaica Defence Force?
As highlighted above, I gained my wings on a Bell, the infamous 206B Jet Ranger. I returned home in April 2006 and later that year commenced training on the Bell 412EP. As a military, we transitioned from the 47G to the Bell 205 (UH-1H), Bell 206A Jet Ranger, Bell 212, Bell 222, Bell 412EP, Bell 407, Bell 206BIII Jet Ranger and our soon-to-be Bell 429.
It is to be noted that the relationship between Bell and the JDF goes as far back as 1963 when we received our first two helicopters, two Bell 47G. This long-standing relationship has been one worthy of recognition. As an organization and military, we have been very loyal and likewise, we have been privy to excellent service.
I have been privileged enough to operate the last four helicopters, three of them in a Captain role. My first Captaincy came on the Bell 407 in 2009. It is such a dynamic and fun helicopter to fly. So much power and very maneuverable; keep that blood flowing through you. My second Captaincy came on the Bell 412EP roughly a year later in 2010. A beast and workhorse of a helicopter. This machine takes your dirty work and gets it done beautifully. Very dependable (as all Bell aircraft have proven) and very suitable not just for our operating hot and humid environs but for the roles within which it is utilized. The 429 initial course at the Bell Training Academy has laid a solid platform. From here, I will head back home and continue operations in our newest assets!
The first two of three 429s will be delivered and subsequently ferried to Jamaica in August to begin their operations as the newest members of the JDF fleet. We are very excited for the 429 as it is growing in popularity across the world.
Until I am fully immersed in the Bell 429, my love remains mostly for the Bell 412EP. I have done countless amount of rescue missions in it, two of which I was awarded National Honours and recognition in 2013 and 2017. The latter was for a daring night hoisting mission 15 miles offshore for a mariner who had been seriously injured. My entire crew was awarded Medal of Honour for Meritorious Service.
Q3: Tell us about your unique flying experience in Jamaica. Aspects of Jamaica you like to highlight and why? Have you flown in other cities, countries, or exotic locations?
As a military helicopter pilot, my missions are very diverse. It is with this type of thinking why most of our helicopters purchased from Bell are modified to suit our operations. To that end my roles include but are not limited to VVIP, SAR, HEMS, Bambi Bucket, Hoisting, Troop Transport, FLIR and aerial surveillance, Powerline Reconnaissance amongst others. I am also a Qualified Helicopter Instructor; in addition to flying most of these sorties, I get to teach younger pilots, a job I have loved ever since meeting my first helicopter instructor. He made everything so easy and fun to learn. These diverse mission roles allow us to operate as an elite aviation unit.
Jamaica is well known for its culture, music, athleticism, beautiful beaches, its topography but more for its people. I am very torn between flying in the mountains and the northern and western side of the islands. The mountains are evergreen with cascading waterfalls seeping out the sides providing a picture so beautiful, it will be a photographer’s delight. If I am however to choose, I will have to go with the northern and western sides of the country. Golf courses, touristy destinations (Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Negril come to mind), beautiful view of the Caribbean Sea, Rolling green hills, historic ports (Falmouth), Rivers/ waterfalls (Dunns River Falls), cliff faces, natural harbours and miles upon miles of beautiful white sand beaches. I absolutely love the topography of Jamaica and I spend quite a bit of time capturing it when I’m not focused on my flying. I feel like a Brand Ambassador for Jamaica. Since of late my Instagram account has been focused on inviting the world to Jamaica… Home of alright!
My flying commenced in the prairies of Canada. I have seen Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon (flown in a Bell 206B and Bell 412SP) and flown a CT-155 Hawk jet trainer over Moose Jaw. I have gone cross country down to North Dakota and Minneapolis. I have zipped about over Fredericton in New Brunswick in the Bell 412 Griffon helicopter operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force. I have seen Fort Worth and the flatlands in and around Dallas.
Finally, the coolest of them all, overhead Las Vegas in a Bell 429 during HAI Heli Expo 2018. It was just great to see all those famous buildings from above. We got a chance to also whiz around in the mountains. After about 15 minutes of flying, I was fully in love with the Bell 429.
Q4: How important is family? What do you want to see for yourself and your family?
My family is very big in my career. My mother has been my biggest cheerleader until my son, Khalil, came of age. He loves helicopters more than I do. My mother and sister were present when I first became an Officer and they were there when I became a pilot. My extended family has been supportive and I try my very best to live an exemplary life. My son takes every opportunity to divert our trips to school to visit the helicopters. 80 percent of the time I oblige, the other 20 percent we can’t because we’re running late. He is my motivation to be the best that I can be and the reason why I keep driving to reach higher levels in aviation. I’m very grateful to his mother Kerry-Ann, providing all the necessary balance during my hectic flying schedules and general military duties.
I would love to see my family grow up and be successful. To watch them as they achieve over the years and to be present to celebrate with them. As for myself, in addition to seeing the success of my family members, I would love to fly until I am 60-65. I think I have a lot of mentorship to offer for the rest of my time in the military and thereafter in the commercial world.
Q5: At Bell, one of our main objectives is to thrill our customers, both pilots and passengers. What is one thrilling aspect of flying Bells that people might not know?
Bell is like an absolutely good friend. One you have known from your childhood days. They never leave you; always there to support you. Bell aircraft has proven to be very reliable, through it all they remain true to task. Add to that some power like that found in the 407 and 429 and you are left in amazement at the wonders that a helicopter can do.
Flying Bell helicopters allow you to build trust in your machine, its long history of development, ensures that the customer is satisfied and flying is made easier and safer. Believe me, easier and safer, every pilot’s dream!
Thinking above and beyond is what we do. For more than 85 years, we’ve been reimagining the experience of flight – and where it can take us.
We are pioneers. We were the first to break the sound barrier and to certify a commercial helicopter. We were a part of NASA’s first lunar mission and brought advanced tiltrotor systems to market. Today, we’re defining the future of advanced air mobility.
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