Two Jamaican pilots both from Buff Bay, Portland connected on a Delta Airlines flight after being told numerous times about their resemblance.
When first officer Marlon Dean Dayes and captain Mark Lumsden ended up on the same flight it was a truly magical moment for them both. Only three months prior to flying together, the pilots met and hoped for a chance to reconnect and fly together in the skies.
“It was a good feeling because for one, it was the first time it ever happened for me. It was the first time I ever flew, since I’ve been at Delta, with another Jamaican. It was a very big deal to know that two people from such a small country are together at the world’s second- largest airline. For me, that was just remarkable,” Dayes told the Jamaica Observer in an interview.
With around 14,000 pilots at Delta Airlines, it is great luck that Dayes and Lumsden were able to fly together as two Jamaican pilots in an industry with a wide diversity gap.
“It gave me an extra bit of inspiration and an extra bit of confidence to know that when my time comes to be a captain, I can do it. Because as I mentioned before, seeing somebody who looks like me, who speaks like me, can relate to my culture and has been through what I’ve been through, to see them lead, in charge and to see how they set the tone is definitely extra special to me. It shows me that, as Jamaicans always say ‘we likkle bit, but we tallawah.'” Explained Dayes in an interview.
Lumsden was equally thrilled to be able to connect with another Jamaican. He told the Jamaican Observer that he had wanted to be a pilot since the age of six: “I feel similarly proud. I’ve flown with other Jamaican first officers before. However, it’s been Marlon’s first time flying with a Jamaican captain and I am always proud to fly with a fellow countryman, knowing the hurdles we endure.”
There have been increasingly more efforts to get Black pilots in the skies with United’s Aviate Academy which launched earlier this year in January. There have also been news of young Black female pilots dominating the industry too, such as Miracle Izuchukwu who is a Nigerian budding pilot on track to becoming the youngest Black female pilot to fly for a major commercial airline.