Getting to Know

The Traveling’ Man Who Didn’t Travel

Lindsay Gardiner

By Jody Rathgeb ~ Photo By Tom Rathgeb

He was always there. In the 1990s and early 2000s, you never had to look far for Lindsay Gardiner. It seemed he never left his spot at Provo airport, behind the desk of Global Airways. His was the face of the air charter company, a welcome sight for travelers headed to North Caicos for vacation or Islanders looking for a ride back after a day of banking, shopping and other errands.

These days, Lindsay Gardiner can be found behind the desk at Caicos Cruisin’.

Interisland travel has changed, and Global Airways no longer exists, but Lindsay is still there . . . not at the airport anymore, but as a manager at Caribbean Cruisin’ at Walkin Marina at the eastern end of Providenciales. He has moved from an air service to ferry service but remains that steady guy behind the counter.

Lindsay’s perspective on travel is not only his story, but also that of his family. With brothers Ferrington and Bennett, the Gardiners put together the air charter that operated for 15 years. They figured they had the right stuff. As Lindsay tells it, in 1993 they were talking about aviation in the Islands and realized they were ready for forming a company: Ferrington was a fully-trained commercial pilot, Bennett was an A&P (airframe and power plant) mechanic, and Lindsay had a background that included assisting Bennett, plus shipyard management at Caicos Marina. It was decided, he says. “Ferrington will be the chief pilot and Bennett the chief mechanic and I will manage the company.”

As a charter company, Global didn’t have a set schedule, but the brothers shrewdly began planning to run flights to align with the most popular times when tourists were moving back and forth to other islands. Lindsay figured it all out while supervising and keeping an eye on international flights, Ferrington’s whereabouts, and the coolers locals were carting to his desk.

Freight was always problematic. “Freight hauling was a challenge because at the start, air transport was the main mode for transportation, and North Caicos being a hinterland, it was difficult to get supplies over,” Lindsay explains. He did his best to accommodate people’s belongings in the small holds of the planes while keeping track of passenger weights and distribution. (Travelers were asked to include their body weights when signing the manifest; there was always a small adjustment for the inevitable white lies.) Sometimes, there were strange cargo requests: one customer wanted the plane to carry bags of cement to North Caicos!

Lindsay made it all work. At the peak of Global Airways, the company had three aircraft and eleven workers. Through the years, he watched as airworthiness checks tightened, security increased and new directives ensured that certain errors and accidents would not happen again.

In short, Lindsay spent his days as a worrier. “The biggest challenge then was to stay afloat and keep the cost down, as aviation is a tough business and with any mistake you easily lose a significant amount of revenue.  You could lose the entire business overnight,” he says.

This is one of Global Airway’s three aircraft operating during the peak of its business.

The company’s work on this edge of viability did not survive 2008, when the U.S. economy’s downturn affected all operations in the Turks & Caicos. Limping along, he says, “We began to re-evaluate the business and decided to move on from aviation.” The brothers dissolved the company and went in somewhat different directions. Bennett began working on Parrot Cay while continuing to do some aircraft maintenance. Ferrington pulled back to North Caicos interests, but also received the opportunity to purchase an interest in the developing ferry service of Caribbean Cruisin’. Lindsay was invited to work with the ferry company as an assistant manager.

For him, the transition was good. The stress of being “the guy behind the desk” was mitigated because, he says, “there are more heads and minds involved in my day-to-day activities.” Also, he stretched his skills by acquiring a boat captain’s license in 2010. “This is a fresh perspective for me, and unlike in the aviation business, where I didn’t have a pilot’s license, I can back up the boat captains should there be a need,” he comments.

For a “son of North Caicos,” Lindsay Gardiner has spent a lot of time on Provo, living there while he continues to help others to travel. And the guy behind the counter is still there, getting others where they’re going.



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