Albon saluted for pilot service

Captain Albon Jelke after his last flight with AMI Monday April 1, with President Hilda Heine and First Gentleman Tommy Kijiner who were passengers on his flight back from Aur Atoll. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

HILARY HOSIA

Air Marshall Islands held a surprise ceremony for Captain Albon Jelke Monday at the Amata Kabua International Airport in commemoration of Albon’s last flight as pilot for the local airline.

Albon is the longest serving AMI pilot in Marshallese history with a service record of 43 years under his belt.

While Albon will remain in AMI as the General Manager, a post he’s held for over two years while still piloting, the ceremony felt like a farewell party given the mixed emotions of the employees and special guest President Hilda Heine.

President Hilda was caught off guard as she stepped off the Dornier to learn a celebration was underway in honor of Captain Albon. She was returning from an Easter visit to her home electorate of Aur Atoll.

President Hilda delivered an emotional speech honoring Albon and his commitment to the government and to her personally as a Parliament Member for Aur and as President of the nation in her previous and current term.

The level of admiration from both AMI employees and people praising Albon on social media attest to Ablon’s personality as a committed careerist and dedicated pilot.
“He loves to fly,” his family said.

Current FFA regulations prevent pilots above the age of 65 to fly commercially. “If it wasn’t for the age regulation, our dad will continue to fly,” family members said. Albon turned 65 this week.

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