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Saturday, June 15, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsVirgin Islands Aviators Team Up on Overseas Commercial Flight

Virgin Islands Aviators Team Up on Overseas Commercial Flight

First Officer Joshua Gibs, right, and Capt. Aaron Simon team up for January flight from Orlando to Mexico on Frontier Airlines (submitted photo courtesy of Bernard Gibs)

Since last November, celebrations over V.I. aviators flying for the major carriers have occurred one at a time. That was before January of this year when Capt. Aaron Simon and First Officer Joshua Gibs teamed up on the same scheduled flight to Mexico with Frontier Airlines.

Both are Virgin Islanders, said proud parent Bernard Gibs, who shared a photo of the unexpected meeting. First officer Joshua — his son — was born on St. Thomas and graduated from Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School. Simon was born in Antigua but spent many years on St. Thomas, eventually working for ACE Flight Center.

The uptick in local pilots working for the major airlines has occurred as carriers like United, Delta and American Airlines have struggled to address a shortage of 14,300 trained commercial pilots.

“In late January 2024 on his weekend assignment, Joshua reported to work for his scheduled flight from Orlando to Mexico and upon introducing himself to the captain, they both had something in common. They both hail from the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas. That is where Aaron and Josh met, flying for Frontier together for the first time,” said the senior Gibs.

Cleo Hodge, owner and operator at the St. Thomas flight school said to date, close to a dozen of his students are now working for the major airlines. He added that Simon first came to the center as a student. “He took lessons and also worked for me as an instructor,” Hodge said.

As a first officer, Gibs acts as second in command along with the captain for a safe and efficient operation of daily operations. He began his training after high school in Florida, and like Simon became a flight instructor. Since then, he has worked for regional carriers Delta Connections and Endeavour Air.

“Currently, he is certified to fly the Airbus series Airbus 320 and the Airbus 321,” his father said.

And although neither Simon nor Gibs have yet to land on Virgin Islands soil,  Port Authority and Education officials have been among those celebrating the homecomings of Adrian Tutein, Shelton Martin, Ben Stout as pilots, co-pilots and first officers. They have also encouraged young Virgin Islanders to explore their possibilities in the airline industry. Bernard Gibs said he hopes the story about his son and others, “will enlighten our young people to join the aviation family.”

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