Culebra Airport

Vieques Air Link

Vieques Air Link (VAL) is a small Puerto Rican airline company that links Vieques with Culebra and mainland Puerto Rico.

Code Data

  • IATA Code: VI
  • ICAO Code: VES
  • Callsign: Vieques

History

Operations began on 1965, with owner Osvaldo Gonzalez piloting a plane with 3 passengers from Vieques to Humacao. A Cherokee aircraft and another airplane were also acquired later, allowing the airline to serve Isla Verde International Airport.

In 1968, Vieques Air Link added a flight to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands.

In 1980 Fajardo airport was built and Vieques Air Link started flights to the new airport immediately. In the 1980s the company increased the frequency of flights to San Juan, Humacao and Culebra. In 1989, Vieques Air Link lost its whole fleet to Hurricane Hugo. However, it soon acquired seven Britten-Norman Islanders and three Trislanders.

In the 1990s VAL got into financial trouble. With the Vieques conflict, more and more Puerto Ricans began flying Vieques Air Link every day to go to military camps to protest, and the police also had to fly their personnel and the people arrested in those areas on VAL planes at various times. Others, like political leaders Ruben Berrios and Fernando Martin, and the 2002 Miss Puerto Rico, who is from Vieques, have had pictures taken by the press aboard VAL planes while flying to Vieques, giving the airline a new wave of unpaid-for promotional attention.

Fleet

The Air Charter Guide lists the following aircraft in the Vieques Air Link fleet:

Accidents

  • 21 December 1971 - an Islander, N589JA, with 1 crew and 7 passengers crashed at Culebra airport. Upon landing, The aircraft bounced on landing. The pilot initiated a go-around over hills. The airplane was unable to clear a house and crashed.
  • 19 December 1977 - an Islander, N862JA, crashed en route from St. Croix to Vieques when both engines flamed out due to fuel exhaustion. The aircraft was ditched off Vieques. There were 9 passengers and a pilot on board. Five were killed and the aircraft was written off.
  • 2 August 1984 - an Islander, N589SA, crashed on initial climb out of Vieques en route to St. Croix. The Islander was overloaded by 600-700 pounds when it departed Vieques. Also, its centre of gravity was up to 5 inches behind the aft limit. After takeoff the left engine lost power. It lost altitude, banked abruptly to the left, nosed down and crashed into the ocean. It appeared that the fuel had been contaminated with water. On board were the pilot and 8 passengers, all were killed.
  • 21 September 1989 - the following Islanders were damaged beyond repair by Hurricane Hugo.
    • N112JC
    • N290VL
    • N457SA
  • November 19 1999, N907VL, an Islander was damaged beyond repair at Anguilla Wallblake Airport by Hurricane Lenny.

External links

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