Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 20th 2017 Contents 2 | business in focus
August 20 . 2017
Taking off without leaving the ground
As far back as Rodney Ragbir could
remember, he wanted to fly airplanes.
During his first visit to a library as
a child, when he was encouraged to
choose a book, he chose one about
It started a fascination that fuelled
Whenever Ragbir would go to pick
up family at the airport, he developed
a sort of hero worship for the pilots
walking commandingly in uniforms,
charged with the responsibility of fly-
ing passengers safely around the world.
He accomplished that dream, and
now plays a role in helping others
achieve the dream locally.
Ragbir left T&T when he was three
years old, after his parents took the de-
cision to migrate to Canada.
Despite leaving at a young age, he
never felt quite at home.
"I remember I had two dreams. One
was to be a pilot and the other was to
move home to Trinidad to live.
"I never felt that Canada was my
home. It was a source of confusion
for my parents who had no intention
of moving back. I always felt Trinidad
was my home," Ragbir said.
He achieved his first dream after
working multiple jobs to put himself
through school to train as a pilot.
In 2008, he was offered a position
as a pilot at Caribbean Airlines and
very happily chose to move back home.
At the time, he had purchased an
aviation simulator for a business he
had started in Canada, and rather
than abandoning his business ven-
ture, decided to start a flight training
programme in T&T.
Today, as the managing director of
Professional Airline Training Solutions
Limited (PRO ATS), Ragbir's company
offers flight simulation training to com-
mercial pilots and those who aspire to
fly the skies.
"It was initially designed for people
who were already pilots, to teach them
advanced manoeuvres and to ensure
they got continuous training. The first
simulator we had was a Boeing 737 jet
As time passed, the company got
repeated requests for training from
people who wanted to be pilots.
"I said to myself, my dreams had
come true. It was time to help others
make their dreams come true."
"It was difficult, but seeing people
realise their dreams, when you see the
smiles on their faces and how excited
they are to use the simulator, I feel hap-
py. I remember a wise man once said
to me that life is God's gift to you but
what you do in life is your gift to God."
He purchased two more aeroplane
simulators and a helicopter simulator,
sinking much of his own money into
He purchased a Cessna or multi-en-
gine simulator and a generic simulator.
The simulator allows the pilots and
aspiring pilots to take off and land at
different airports around the world in
It allows the user to experience fly-
ing first hand, and interact with all of
the buttons, software and hardware
present in the cockpit of an aircraft.
"When an individual acquires a
commercial pilot license, it is a license
to learn. We then have the advanced
programme that allows them to sit in
that co-pilot seat."
While 30 per cent of the clients who
use the facility are licensed pilots who
do the advanced programme, 70 per
cent are aspiring pilots who sign up
for the private pilot preparation pro-
gramme, which is open to anyone over
the age of 14.
The company also offers a training
camp, where children as young as sev-
en can learn about aviation and expe-
rience flying through the simulator.
The company is also launching
a one-hour programme for people
who fit in neither category and just
want to experience the thrill of flying
"We had a lot of requests from the
general public who did not want to be
pilots but wanted to feel what it was
like to fly an aircraft. We avoided it for
a while because what we were doing
was very professional training, but the
demand was high and there was no
one else to meet it."
"We are the only company in the
country with this kind of technology
and I have not encountered another
country in the Caribbean region that
does this either."
For Ragbir, teaching and sharing his
knowledge at home, in the country that
he loves brings him joy.
He still flies with Caribbean Airlines
and despite taking off and landing in
airports all over the world, his favourite
place to land is T&T.
"Every time I pass over the northern
range I experience this joy and amaze-
ment at how beautiful the country is,
how beautiful the islands are, but also
an immense pride over how unique we
are and how diverse.
"When you've lived abroad its is very
different. Whenever I walk off a Car-
ibbean Airlines plane, I'm so proud to
say this is my people."
Rodney Ragbir in the flight simulator at Pro ATS' office in Trincity Business park on Friday. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
Local pilot lives his dream
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