Lieutenant Commander Gaylord Kelshall
Does the name Gaylord Kelshall ring a bell? For the younger generation or those who aren’t particularly aviation junkies it may not. However this now retired Commander, curator and aviation historian has been around for quite some time as he has served both in his country and on the international scene in the world of aviation.
“From ever since I can remember, I always wanted to be an Air Force Pilot,” Kelshall said as he recollected moments from his childhood that shaped the man he has become. Born in San Fernando, he was educated at St. Peter’s College, Pointe-A-Pierre Technical Institute, San Fernando Technical Institute and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and although he “gave teachers a little trouble” throughout his youth he was an avid cricketer but his ambition remained to be an Air Force Pilot.
After entering the world of aviation in 1962 with the Light Aeroplane Club, as fate would have it in 1964 he was commissioned into the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard where he flew as a Naval Pilot with the Air Wing. The best of those years being 1970 when “I had to prepare the charges to go out,” he said as it was during that time the Black Power uprising gained strength in Trinidad and Tobago which required heavy military intervention. His last posting in the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force was with the first Helicopter Base where he was 2nd in command.
Adding to a plethora of accomplishments and experiences, Lieutenant Commander Gaylord Kelshall later volunteered his time and service to the Confederate Air Force, a volunteer organization (now called the Commemorative Air Force) where he was also a Commissioned Officer (at the rank of Colonel) and has had specialist training in Explosive Demolition, Aviation Security, Narcotics Law Enforcement, Financial Management and Marketing and Industrial Relations.
Following his service with military forces, he became a Corporate Captain, a title which he prides as one of his greatest achievements as he flew extensively throughout the Caribbean, North and South America. In his career he has had the opportunity to meet thousands of people from all different walks of life but he boasts of having over 13,000 hours flying time and has been a part of the Cockpit Crew on 100 different types of aircraft.
Today, Kelshall is spending his days in a hammock on his oceanfront home in Chaguaramas with his canine companion Bella. His oceanfront location is also home to the Chaguaramas Military History and Aerospace Musuem which he founded some twenty-two years ago.
The museum houses one of the largest collections of military artifacts in the Caribbean, chronicling over 500 years of history which presents a very vivid and detailed picture into significant periods of history. He and his second wife, Linda, have managed to creatively recreate aspects of what life was like during slavery, the world wars and the civil wars by using a mixture of sculptures, actual and recreated artifacts, sound effects and lighting which literally take the public on a walk through history.
Linda is now the museum’s manager as Lt. Cmdr Kelshall is ailing and cannot continue running the museum as he used to. The couple shared the same sentiments as they pleaded for financial assistance in order to keep the historical landmark afloat as it may soon be obsolete if they don’t get assistance soon.