History

The only reliable objective historical fact about the history of the BonAeroClub is that it all started in 2005 when the four founding fathers decided it was a good idea to buy a plane and start an aero club. From here the four founding fathers have different stories about how it all started.

History according to Gijs Hoogerkamp.

Back in those days I did a lot of networking.  On Bonaire, Friday evenings are the best for networking. I will never forget  the Friday evening the Aeroclub idea was born. After a very useful visit to the Mona Lisa bar I decided to go to the Little Havana Jazz café. Back then it was a charming quiet place where you could have a decent talk to interesting people who frequented the bar. I got to talk to Wietze and before I knew it we were talking planes. “As a boy, didn’t you always dream about being a pilot?” he asked. Wietze can be very convincing when he is focused. Maybe I had a bit too much to drink, but before I knew it I promised to join in buying a plane and founding an aero club. I never brake a promise, even the ones made in a bar, so when I sobered up I made appointments to make the crazy dream of an aero club on Bonaire come true.

History according to Marc Westenberg

Aviation is my hobby and my job. As a Chief Mechanical Engineer I work in Amsterdam for the KLM/Air France airline and I also have FAA certs for technical work on and technical approbation of the small planes of General Aviation. A hobby run out of hand, so to speak. All over the world I help people buy or sell GA planes. I have a very soft spot for General Aviation. That is why, though I am not a pilot,  I am a member of the KLM Aero Club in Holland. That is also why, in 2001, I supported the idea of a flight school in Bonaire.  I transported the PH-KAN Cessna formerly owned by the KLM Aero Club to Bonaire and helped them register it in the US. Unfortunately the flight school on Bonaire did not last and the Cessna, now N199LP, was sold to Aruba.
Somewhere in 2005 I got a call from Bonaire. A couple of crazy guys wanted my help founding an Aero Club. They were in the process of buying the N199LP and wanted me to take part. They knew my soft spot and put the pressure on. It would be a no go if I did not join in. I caved in, and that’s how it happened.

History according to Marco van de Kreeke.

Back in 2005 I was General Manager of Bonaire International Airport. It was a temporary job, but I enjoyed living on Bonaire. One of the benefits of living on Bonaire was the outdoor happy hour in the Little Havana Jazz café. It was the place to meet people. I remember talking to a couple of guys who wanted to start an Aeroclub to learn how to fly. I told them that an aero club could count on the support of the airport. I also asked them what it would take to be a member and learn how to fly. Since I planned to leave the island in a couple of years I did not want to participate any further. They told me that support of the airport was nice, but not enough. If I wanted to learn how to fly I had to participate in buying the plane. They really were pressing me, so I said yes and started flying. But before I could finish my pilot training I left the island for a job in Africa.

History according to Wietze Koopman.

I came to Bonaire to work as a dive master. Scuba diving was my hobby and I made it my job.  I loved the easy way of living on Bonaire and working outdoors as a dive master was enough for me. As a diversion from my diving life, every once in while I went to the Little Havana Jazz bar to enjoy the music in a quiet atmosphere. One of these whiles I was sitting at the bar minding my own business when Gijs came in. We started talking and Gijs just kept on ordering beers. I really started feeling the alcohol when he started talking about flying. “Didn’t you always dream about being a pilot when you were a boy?” he asked. “Sure” I said and the next morning he called me and told me I promised to take part in buying an airplane. I did not really remember, but I did not exclude the possibility that I promised. Since I am not in the habit of breaking promises, even when made in a bar, we bought the plane and started the BonAeroClub. After that, I promised myself not to drink anymore.

What really happened.

Unfortunately we will never know what really happened in these early days.  What we do know is that the aero club was set up in a bar and that back in 2005 the Little Havana Jazz Café was the place to be. It is highly improbable that four unwilling guys founded an aero club. What we also do know is that these four crazy guys enthusiastically supported the idea, the plane is here and the BonAeroClub is the longest living aero club Bonaire has ever had.