Miss Adigun Olabanke Khadijat is the first female Pilot from Kwara South.A graduate of International Aviation College (IAC) Ilorin, she bagged her Commercial Pilot License (CPL) recently.In this interview with Oladipo Magaji, she speaks on the hurdles crossed before she realised her ambition of becoming a licensed pilot

What prompted your desire to become a pilot?

It has always been my desire to become a pilot right from childhood. The way they dressed as seen in movies and books attracted me.

Can you share your experiences and encounters on your journey to becoming a pilot?

It was a bitter experience! The major challenge was finance. I think this summarises my challenges. It’s a story for another day.

Piloting in Africa is highly dominated by male, what’s your perception on this?

Basically, I think back in the days, there was this saying that “a woman’s kitchen is her workshop.” However, being a pilot requires that one should be brave. It is a job that requires multi-tasking. As earlier said, in the past it was widely believed in Africa that women are expected to end up their various educational careers in their husbands’ kitchens, irrespective of their profession and grades. In addition piloting is a profession that requires a lot of finance, which must have accounted for parents’ reluctance to invest huge amount on education of the female child, with the fear of what the future holds. Thus, women did not enjoy same privileges as their male counterparts in terms of education or in some specific professions.

What was your most dreaded moment in the flight school?

The most fearful moment in the flight school for me, was landing an aircraft. Flight school was so interesting that I hardly repeated any exercise until I got to exercise 12, circuit and landing. Landing, as known by pilots is the most difficult phase in flight, as that alone can destroy whatever good job that might have been built up there. At a point, my landing skills was deteriorating from good to bad, to the extent that my instructor, FI Akinlolu Ayanyemi had to suggest I was handed over to another instructor with the anticipation that, probably his own teaching skills might not be the best for me at that point in time. But in the long run, I was able to get the landing skills. Subsequently, I had my first solo flight on 7th of Oct 2013.

When was your happiest moment while undergoing training?

It was on a particular afternoon, when I had another solo flight for circuit and landing. I was so happy to hear from the control tower, “what a perfect landing!”, and was more fulfilled when my instructor came back from a flight and gave me a call that he was very happy to hear the control tower commending my landing.

What is your take on the Nigerian aviation sector?

Basically, I think they aren’t doing so good when it comes to staffing. I will suggest they think of absorbing more indigenous pilots into the system, as it will make it easier being employed here, compared to outside. Also, female pilots should be encouraged and given a level plain field to operate, like what Air Peace did recently, on one of their flights schedules, they had an all female crew flight. A welcome development I must say.

How would you react to the proposed national carrier?

That’s a very welcome development. I see it as a great opportunity for lots of indigenous pilots to secure jobs. That probably will make effective most of our redundant aerodromes. It will further strengthen our aviation sector by ensuring that the government is fully involved in aviation operations and will put the Nigerian aviation sector in a good light in international aviation business.

What has been your challenges so far?

As said earlier, the challenge so far is finance. Aside securing a licence, a lot more is required. Like going for further training, such as Instructor Rating. A further training to be able to train upcoming pilots or probably to be rated on a particular aircraft type. Like I said earlier, all these still boils down to finance.

Who do you consider as your mentor?

My humble instructor, Instructor Akinlolu Ayanyemi.

What has been your philosophy in life?

My philosophy has been, “Always go for wherever your heart desires without relenting” The never say never spirit.