Flutter around the Dutch Antilles
Bonaire by Divi Divi Air
by Jan Koppen & Michael S. Prophet
In February 2020, my friend, Mr. Michael S. Prophet and I travelled from Amsterdam to the Caribbean the ‘old-style’. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines brought us comfortably in their 27 years young Queen, "City of Nairobi", to Willemstad, Curacao. During our spotters-trip to the Caribbean we took the opportunity to flutter around the Dutch Antilles, to spot and photograph the aviation activity on these tiny islands. The second island we visited was Bonaire, which is, only a 20 minute, Britten Norman BN-2A Islander ride from Willemstad. Enjoy the pics, video and captions.
Divi Divi Air was founded on July 28th, 2000 and commenced operations in 2001 with a fleet of Britten-Norman BN-2P Islanders to Bonaire. For over 17 years Divi Divi Air has been a household name on the route between Curaçao and Bonaire. The locals on the islands characterize the airline by its small scale, personal attention and particularly high punctuality. Although the aviation company run by the Richie family has concentrated almost entirely on maintaining the route between Bonaire and Curaçao in the first 17 years, Aruba was added in February 2018.
The Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander is a high-wing cantilever monoplane with a rectangular fuselage and two wing-mounted engines; early aircraft were equipped with a pair of piston engines while later production models may be alternatively fitted with turboprop engines in their place. The rectangular cross section fuselage, which is furnished with a conventional tail unit and fixed tricycle landing gear, typically accommodates a single pilot and up to nine passengers in a commuter configuration, each row being accessed by its own door; the cabin can be rapidly reconfigured, allowing for a single aircraft to undertake a diverse range of tasks within a minimal period of time. Often referring to the type as "The world's most versatile aircraft", Britten-Norman promotes the Islander's low direct operating costs, minimal maintenance, and its stability in flight as major attributes of the aircraft.
PJ-SKY is a BN-2A-26 Islander. PJ-SKY was built for the Mexican Government in August 1980 and the old girl is still as eager as ever.
The BN-2A-26 is basicly a BN-2A-8 with an increased take-off weight.
A Divi Divi Air ground crew member oversees the start-up of our BN-2A Islander PJ-SKY.
PJ-SKY fires up her two, 6 cylinder, 260 hp, Lycoming O-540-E4C5 engines at Willemstad, Curacao.
With, 260 hp of tired iron turning on either side, PJ-SKY is held against the brakes.
Her, Lycoming O-540-E4C5's singing loudly.
In the background, is SkyHigh owned Embraer-145 HI-1053, Jetair Fokker F70 PJ-JAC and ATR-42F, belonging to DHL.
Pulling-out of CUR on February 09, 2020.
Throttles, almost against the stopes, as our Lycoming powered Islander climbs out over the Caribbean.
RPM's are still in the green!
Altitude 2.400 ft, vertical speed 900 ft per min and still climbing.
Her growling Lycoming’s performed well.
We got rewarded with bright sunshine on this lovely Sunday, February 09, 2020.
Below us we see the Curaçao International Raceway.
Below us we see the Curaçao International Raceway.
The Sint Joris Bay is clearly visible on the right side.
On October 22, 2009, a Britten-Norman BN-2A Islander, operating as Divi Divi Air flight 014, suffered an engine failure and ditched five minutes flying time away from Bonaire. The pilot was knocked unconscious on impact; his passengers could not undo his safety harness and he went down with the aircraft, but rescue boats picked up all nine passengers.
Erwin, our pilot, is only 20 years young.
Rudder trim is possible with the use the big black knob in the roof.
Standby and port tank selectors in the colors red and green.
Never exceed the 177 knots speed in your Britten Norman.
The Britten Norman stylish company symbol.
Only 32.2 nautical miles to Bonaire NDB (PJB).
116.70 MHz is used by the Curacao VOR/DME.
Finally we reached our cruising altitude of 3.500 feet.
During cruise our airspeed was 120 knots at an altitude of 3.500 feet.
Eight sectors to be flown for today. Only the date is a bit strange January 09, 2020. It defenitely was February 09, 2020.
The Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander is a British light utility aircraft and regional airliner designed and originally manufactured by Britten-Norman of the United Kingdom. Still in production, the Islander is one of the best-selling commercial aircraft types produced in Europe. Although designed in the 1960s, over 750 are still in service with commercial operators around the world. The aircraft is also used by the British Army and police forces in the United Kingdom and is a light transport with over 30 military aviation operators around the world. Initial aircraft were manufactured at Britten-Norman's factory in Bembridge, Isle of Wight, UK. After Fairey Aviation acquired the Britten-Norman company, its Islanders and Trislander aircraft were built in Romania, then shipped to Avions Fairey in Belgium for finishing before being flown to the UK for flight certification. The Islander has been in production for more than 50 years.
Thumbs-up by Erwin, our Islander pilot.
Flight 3R/016 is now decending with 400 feet per minute.
Divi Divi Air BN-2A Islander PJ-SKY coasts into Bonaire Flamingo airport from Willemstad.
Erwin is hard at work with his 'mental' arrival checklist.
Runway 10 in sight.
Crossing the fence with the Eeg Boulevard clearly visible.
Our old Islander trundled back across the airfield to her base, yet another mission completed.
The Flamingo airport based Islanders are hard working aeroplanes.
F/O Erwin and your author being immortalized in front of the sturdy Britten Norman.
Friendly people, on a friendly island.
Flamingo Airport in all her glory. The airport is pink because it is the color of the pink flamingo for which Bonaire is one of the few places where they can be found by the hundreds.
The walkway below the old tower is actually the beginning of the arrivals hall.
This tiny island off the coast of Venezuela is one of KLM's out stations within the Carib.
Bon Bini to Bonaire.
The "Crown Princess" of Princess Cruises was visiting Bonaire that day.
Fort Oranje was built in 1639 to defend Bonaire's main harbor. The fort was extensively modified during the end of the seventeenth century. The town was renamed "Kralendijk" by the Dutch colonial rulers in about 1840.
Kralendijk 'fish market'.
Our Divi Divi Air Islander PJ-SKY is seen here approaching Bonaire's runway 10 for the second time that day.
Aruba Airlines CRJ-200ER P4-CRA coasts into Bonaire Flamingo from Orangestad, Aruba.
The Bonairian, lounge club is one of the better spotting places in this world.
Ice-cold Polar beer in a very peaceful environment.
Delta 665 from Atlanta performed a nice approach to Bonaire's runway 10.
This Delta Airlines Boeing 737-832 displays its impressive array of high-lift devices on final approach to Bonaire Flamingo.
Full-flap and leading edge slats are deployed to slow Delta Airlines N3768 as it nears the end of its journey to Bonaire Flamingo, on a bright afternoon, in February 2020.
Just outside the Bonairian Club.
Overview of the western part of Flamingo airport.
BAe-3102 Jetstream 31 YV180T of Venezolana will remain stranded at Bonaire. This airframe was manufactured 1987 and delivered in November to North Pacific Airlines of the USA. Years later she was sold to Aero Continente, which was an airline in Peru. In 2003, she was sold to Venezolana from Caracas. The Jetstream was operated by Rutas Aereas de Venezuela (RAV S.A.).
This Jetstream 31, marooned in a corner of Bonaire Flamingo airport many, many years ago.
Sunwing, C-GLRN, backtracking at Bonaire after her flight from Montreal.
PJ-DVE DHC-6-300 Twin Otter. This aircraft was first delivered to NorOntair in October 1973. After only eight years she was sold and had varied career with several well-known Canadian operators, such as; Austin Airways, Air-Dale and Air Labrador before being purchased by Plane & Parts Ltd. in April 2017. Eight months later and began a new life as a regional airliner at Bonaire with Divi Divi Air.
The check-in hall at Bonaire's Flamingo Airport. It's a small but nice airport. The quietness can even be felt in the air, a totally different feeling compared to other airports. Previously the airport was used as a mini hub for the KLM flights to and from South-America.
3R/025 was our flight back to Curacao.
EZ Air Beech 1900D, PJ-EZA, just arrived here in Bonaire. The size of this airport and the tranquility makes this airport unique.
PJ-DVF, is seen here ready to depart, as our flight 3R/025 with destination Curacao.
Here, a Divi Divi Air BN-2A Islander PJ-SKY and DHC-6-300 Twin-Otter are caught between flights on a sticky day at Bonaire Flamingo airport on February 09, 2020.
The low load height and wide side doors provide for easy access for passenger and cargo operations.
PJ-DVF DHC-6-300 Twin Otter. This Twin-Otter first flew in September 1978 and was delivered the same month to South-Pacific Island Airways as N28SP. From 1981 until its purchase by Divi Divi Air in December 2018, she changed hands almost 20 times.
DHC-6-300 Twin-Otter PJ-DVF is seen here at Bonaire Flamingo, awaiting its passengers before the flight back to Willemstad, Curacao.
Her switches and controls, worn smooth by the touch of a thousand hands.
Another very efficient turn-round for this Divi Divi Air Twin-Otter.
Our Divi Divi Twin-Otter races off Bonaire’s runway into the evening light, enroute to Willemstad, Curacao.
The outskirts of Kralendijk.
The big Pratts are pulling strongly.
Fuel burn of the DHC-6 at flight level 100 with 146 kn (270 km/h) is: 468.2 lb (212.4 kg)/hour or 0.311 nmi/lb (1.27 km/kg).
F/O Ignacio Karo hard at work.
With a present altitude of 2.300 feet and climbing with 1000 ft. per minute our Twin-Otter is racing through the Caribbean sky.
Her ventilators (in the roof) are working at their max!
Curacao VOR/DME (PJG) is 44.7 NM away on bearing 286 degrees.
Flamingo Airport and Plaza Resort Bonaire fading into the sunset.
In the distance are the Cargill salt works.
The locals are taking time for a nap.
Half-way we are passing the tiny island Little Curaçao.
We just pasted the southern tip of Curacao.
En route; the fight-deck of PJ-DVF is the vantage point, as the Curacao is in view before being partially screened by a layer of cloud.
Schottegat and the Isla oil refinery are visible in a gorgeous sunset.
Arriving over Refineria Curazao at the Bullenbaai, just prior to sunset.
We are turning onto short finals in our Divi Divi Air Twin-Otter.
The first officer hand is on the roof mounted throttle control.
She made contact with the runway 11.
Airbus 330-300 of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is seen here approached by aircraft handlers at Curacao Hato on February 09, 2020.
F/O Ignacio Caro and Captain Andre Hofdam. Ignacio has 600 hours - and Andre 1.500 hours on Twin-Otters.
Another quick turnround for PJ-DVF as it disembarked her passengers.
All doors closed.
- The End -