November 2021 Volume 17

Former KC athlete Atkinson set to take off with JetBlue

Reprinted from Jamaica Observer
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Pocket Rocket Foundation recipient now a licensed commercial pilot

By Howard Walker

Former Kingston College (KC) athlete Jovaine Atkinson is well on his way to fulfilling his dream of being a pilot after he was accepted to the Airline Training Orientation Programme at JetBlue.

Atkinson, who represented KC in the hurdles at Champs, gained a full athletic scholarship from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he pursued a career in aeronautics.

He is now a licensed commercial pilot, multi-engine rated and raring to go as he posted videos on social media of his training stint with him taking off and landing.

“It was a great feeling, to be honest. I applied in January after seeing an advertisement about the Airline Training Orientation Program that JetBlue was offering.

“Ultimately, I want to get to the major airlines and JetBlue is one of the mainline carriers I've been eyeing, so I was excited when I received a phone call in May that I was accepted into their programme to kick-start my jet training,” Atkinson told the Jamaica Observer.

“I have always dreamt of flying these big airplanes and I was really grateful for the opportunity to get some experience in an Airbus 320 jet,” he pointed out.

He continued: “It was tough learning the systems and the flows of the airplane, but I adjusted well and applied myself to the materials and the procedures.”

“When I sat in that left seat, I envisioned myself as the captain that I aspire to be while I was at the controls. It was so surreal when I activated the throttle and spool up the engines,” said Atkinson.

“As the airplane rolled down the runway, I remembered those long and hard days back in flight school and seeing everything coming to fruition now and how I've adjusted easily to the jets...[this] showed just how much hard work and dedication paid off and I also had a sense of belonging,” he noted.

Atkinson, who started representing Kingston College in the 110m hurdles at the annual Boys' and Girls' Championships in 2012, had his best placing (fourth) in the Class One final in 2014. In 2015, after achieving a personal best of 13.40 seconds, he sustained an injury and was unable to compete in his final year.

In 2013, Atkinson was one of the first recipients of the Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce's Pocket Rocket Foundation to be awarded a full academic scholarship as a high school student-athlete.

“Do not limit yourselves, and stamp your class and leave an impact wherever you go. I'm grateful that JetBlue was able to afford me this opportunity and I'm looking forward to flying with them in the future,” were Atkinson's parting words.

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