Defied all odds! | Agricola youth defies the odds, is now a commercial pilot in the US

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Keith `Junior’ Leow decorated with his wings

By Wendella Davidson

“I just wish my mom was alive to see me realise my childhood dream of being a pilot,” said Keith `Junior’ Leow, 46, who was born at Agricola, East Bank Demerara, and left these shores for Canada when he was eight years old , with his mom, Janet Inniss-Leow and sister, Dionne.

Named after his late father, Keith Leow, Junior recalled living at Fourth Street, Agricola with his mom, dad and sister in a family house, which was obliquely opposite that of his grandparents, Samuel and Vera Inniss.

Following the untimely death of his father, his mom, then an employee of the Guyana Telephone Company (GTC), quit her job and moved with her two children to Canada.

Prior to migrating, Junior said he attended St Gabriel’s Primary School and in Canada he was schooled at Streetville High School in Mississauga, Ontario

Junior disclosed that he always had a penchant for aviation and vividly remembers always being fascinated with the planes that would be parked on the tarmac at the then Timehri International Airport, now renamed the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, whenever he was given the opportunity to accompany his mom, now deceased, whenever a family member would travel out or would be arriving in the country.

Junior flying above Dallas International Airport, in Texas, recently.

“I just found it amazing that such large objects could fly and I recall on those trips my mom used to take me upstairs to the viewing galley so I can see the planes landing and taking off, and in my little mind I would vow that I would fly one of them someday. I remember even telling my mom often times and she would say, Junior, you could be whatever you want to be, once you put your mind to it,” he told the Guyana Chronicle in an exclusive telephone interview from Florida.

Junior said he never strayed from his dream and may have realised it earlier, had it not been for the death of his mom when he was 33. But, according to him, even as her passing took a heavy toll on him, he vowed to make her proud even in death, which he disclosed to `Dionne’  with whom he is inseparable and is also his confidante.

The father of two sons, Jalyn and Justin, said he subsequently relocated to Florida where it is credited for having the best flight schools. Remarking that with the cost of being trained in such a vocation being very steep, Junior said “ it was an uphill task, I had to work, maintain myself and two kids and pay for my  studies, but it was a goal I had set myself and was determined to be successful.”

On this note, he expressed gratitude, in particular, to his sister `Dionne’ whom he described as “the shoulder I could have leaned and cried on when the going got tough” and too, other family members for their moral support.

Junior said he enrolled to do flight training at Pilot Training Centre (PTC) Lantana, Florida, adding, there were times when he felt like quitting but on each of those occasions, he recalled seeing what appears to him as his mom looking at him and very unhappy.

Junior said he persevered and climbed the aviation rungs, successfully completing his examinations, compulsory flying miles and received his wings as a commercial pilot on May 24, 2019. He is ever thankful to the Almighty without whose grace he said he could not have achieved anything.

Junior is presently employed with Southern Airways Express as a pilot and plans to within a year transition to Skywest Airlines.

He says his personal mantra is  Napolean Hill’s quote; “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve”, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The heights by great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.”