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The GRA is the Reason I Left Guyana – Volunteer Pilot, Doug Spencer

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First Published: 24th of November, 2021. Guyana, South America

Last updated: April 25, 2023 at 17:33 pm

American born Pilot, Doug Spencer, served as a volunteer pilot in Guyana with Remote Air Medical between the years 2016 to 2019. Remote Area Medical is a charitable organization which provides, among other services, free medevac services for remote communities around the world. Remote Area Medical has saved perhaps thousands of lives since first starting operations in Guyana in 2001.

Since 2001, Remote Area Medical – (RAM)® has provided a free air ambulance to thousands of Amerindian villagers in remote Guyana. In these isolated regions, RAM’s air ambulance is often the only way to access medical care, making the difference between life and death. RAM flies its Cessna 206 into 28 different airfields to transport villagers to facilities for vital care. 

Source: Ram website

Unfortunately, in 2020, Remote Area Medical closed down all its operations in Guyana. The reason for its pullout is complex, but one contributing factor might have been difficulty in finding volunteer pilots.

In an interview with this publication on the 23rd of November, 2021, former volunteer pilot in Guyana, Doug Spencer, said he believes that the fact that he refused to renew his contract with RAM in 2019 might have been a contributing factor to the decline in operations in Guyana. In 2021, RAM sold all its planes in Guyana and stopped all airborne activities in Guyana.

This is certainly not the vision of the founder of the Remote Area Medical, the recently deceased Stan Brock, whose ashes were scattered over Dadanawa Ranch in the Rupununi Savannahs of Guyana after his death and cremation in 2018, but we’ll cover details about this in an upcoming article.

During his three-year period of service in Guyana, Doug Spencer had a lot of beautiful stories to tell about Guyana. He loved the people, the food, the customs, the naturally beautiful environment, and many other things. But a terribly unpleasant experience with the Guyana Revenue Authority caused Mr. Spencer to become scared of staying any longer in Guyana. So scared in fact, that he packed up and left for Africa where he served as a volunteer pilot for another charitable organization.

Doug explains that in 2019, he became alarmed after the Guyana Revenue Authority taxed him heavily for SIMs that Google were giving away free of charge. Imagine a non-commercial activity being taxed $8,816 dollars for an item that cost 0 dollar! But it wasn’t so much the money that was the problem for Mr. Spencer…it was the draconian tax policies which seemed designed to sap the vigor out of the common resident.

That’s a big part of why I decided to leave Guyana: over the import tax on the free items I had mailed in. I could see that they didn’t care about what’s right, and they were going to start exploiting people in more ways. They also stopped responding when I inquired about a refund of that tax when I carried the items out of Guyana.

Doug Spencer is doubtless one of the world’s most skilled and accomplished pilots. He has flown literally around the world. Aside from flying, Doug is a skilled computer programmer. When he is not flying, he is touring the world and working remotely with his wife who is also a computer programmer and software engineer. The couple has chosen to make St. Kitts and the Nevis their second home.

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