THERE are very obviously missing pieces in the story of what happened that led to the plane crash in Abaco that killed two pilots.
From what we know so far, two foreign pilots flew the plane into Treasure Cay from the Dominican Republic on Friday. The plane was due to depart on Monday – but then it is reported that the plane was stolen, in a journey that ended in flames.
The plane used the entire runway and ended in bushes beyond the runway’s end, with eyewitnesses saying the plane looked like it was struggling to get off the ground or to get enough power. It has been claimed that the two pilots who were killed, Jason Allen and Lavan Paul, did not have a sufficient pilot rating to fly the aircraft.
More curiously, the two pilots who had flown the plane into the country were reportedly taken into custody by Immigration officers. They were later released – but no explanation has been given for their detention. Those pilots filed a report on Tuesday, the day after the crash, that the plane had been stolen. Yesterday, police said those pilots have already left the country.
Questions were being raised all around. Why was a flight coming to Treasure Cay from the Dominican Republic in the first place? What happened that prompted Immigration to detain the original pilots? When did Allen and Paul arrive in Treasure Cay and what drew their attention to a jet that had only just arrived the preceding Friday? And why would they try to take a plane they didn’t even know how to fly? Will items such as the flight log and the manifest help investigators work out what was going on here?
Curiouser still, Allen and Paul seemed to be prepared for this ahead of time. This was no spontaneous theft, if theft it was, as they presented a required document to officials and went through the normal procedures to board the jet.
Captain Delvin Major, of the Air Accident Investigation Authority, suggested there might not be much more of an investigation for his organisation to carry out, as once they have seen the pilots weren’t authorised to fly the plane, that’s that. If you’re not supposed to be flying the plane, there’s little further need to work out if it was an engine problem or anything else. You weren’t trained, you shouldn’t have flown.
But there is clearly a broader investigation that needs to be done here. What were all these people doing here in Treasure Cay? And what was going on that this particular plane was such a focus of interest, with two sets of pilots and one set being detained by authorities?
Here’s another question to add to the list – how many other flights like this are there?
The assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise at his home has shocked the world.
It is, of course, horrific. Leaders around the world have been sending their sympathies, and President Moise’s wife has been rushed to Florida for treatment for her own gunshot wounds suffered in the attack.
It would be an understatement to say that Haiti has been suffering from political turmoil for some considerable time. Elections have failed to be held, parliament has been dissolved, and disputes over when Moise was supposed to have reached the end of his term – his opponents say he was due to go on February 7, but he said his term would end next year because the 2016 elections were postponed.
He planned to change the Haitian Constitution to strengthen the powers of the presidency and prolong his administration, and the result had been thousands of Haitians taking to the street in protest. It has ended with his assassination, an action that can never be justified regardless of the political problems rocking the nation.
For once, the eyes of the world are on Haiti, for all the wrong reasons. The truth is the eyes of the world should have been on Haiti for a long time. It has struggled to establish a fairly elected leadership, it has struggled economically, it has struggled with the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, we reported how a photojournalist in Haiti was shot and injured when a Haitian senator pulled a gun outside the country’s parliament and opened fire. Last year, police officers were in a gun battle with the country’s armed forces.
Offers of help and support are not easy to give either – with many Haitians suspicious of US influence in the past in the country, and the country badly hit by cholera after an outbreak linked to United Nations peacekeepers sent there after the 2010 earthquake.
But clearly Haiti is in need. It shouldn’t take this for things to change, but change it must.