Looking to scatter ashes from the air

| 03/05/2016

I read your response to a question (see Ask Auntie column) about someone spreading their mother’s ashes on Cayman. You mentioned you could have them spread on the sea but not on land. Do you know if someone can rent a helicopter and be out over water and have them spread out from Seven Mile Beach?

Auntie’s answer: The short answer is no. When discussing ashes being spread at sea, the important distinction arises from where you discharge them. Yes, you can scatter someone’s ashes on the sea in Cayman by going out on a boat and releasing the ashes. However, a representative at the Department of Environmental Health (DEH), which authorises the spreading of ashes, explained that you are not allowed to scatter the ashes from the air, over the sea.

No one has ever been granted permission to do that. From what I understand, one of the major impediments to doing so is that there is no control over where the ashes might travel. From the heights of a helicopter, scattered ashes can be carried anywhere by the wind.

I suppose as well, that if someone were to empty an urn along Seven Mile Beach in the daytime, lots of visitors would see the ashes drifting from the sky.

To change the rules to enable permission to be granted would require the input of several agencies, including the DEH and probably the Department of Environment, among others.

And I don’t think anyone reading this would be under any illusions that the process would be anything other than excruciatingly slow. In other words, please do not hold your breath on permission being granted any time soon.

However, if the unforeseen does happen and the situation changes, making the spreading of ashes from the skies legal, after the individual gains the required permissions, Cayman Islands Helicopters, a private charter company, which is currently prohibited by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands from discharging anything by air, has confirmed they would be happy to accommodate such requests.


Category: Ask Auntie

Comments (2)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Never had any issue with this in the UK. On a couple of occasions my flying school has been asked to scatter former pilot’s ashes over old WWII airfields in the South of England and the CAA never refused us permission. This was also from light aircraft, which seems to me potentially far more problematic than using a helicopter.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Surely the answer from the authorities is the wrong way round. They have no identified any reason why someone cannot scatter ashes from the air. The authorities need to identify a prohibition before they can intervene not the other round. That was one of things that they were fighting over at the Battle of Waterloo.