A Nigerian Pilot, Ademilola Odujinrin has shared his experience of how he made history as the first African to fly around the world.
The world tour saw the 38-year-old pilot traversed the world on a single engine aircraft from the USA to Iceland then Europe and into Africa via UAE, India, and the Asian subcontinent.
According to Ademilola, he set himself on the tedious journey to encourage Nigerian and African youths at large to inspire a can-do spirit that will help them pursue their dream and never give up. He also has the lofty hopes to reshape the perception of Nigeria through great achievements that defy expectation and to redefine the African narrative.
The solo voyage began in June 2016 and flagged-off by Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi and successfully ended on March 29, 2017, when his aircraft landed at Dulles International Airport, Washington DC.
Tagged Transcend: One Man One Plane One World, the historic adventure was sponsored by Tolaram Group, Translynx Nigeria Ltd and Air Djibouti with support and partnership from various companies and individuals.
Addressing the media in Lagos upon his return, he revealed that the journey spanned 25 countries across five continents and lasted nine months. He explained further that although the actual duration of the journey was 300 hours (six weeks), the journey was elongated by weather, technical and financial challenges.
Undeterred by the setbacks, he said, “Some of my biggest motivation was the support I got from my team and prayers from people like Ooni of Ife. But I will like to add that the fear of failure is one of my motivation. I flew a total of 300 hours and encountered challenges such as technical and clearances.”
“Another very challenging part of the journey was the weather. For instance, I was stuck in South East Asia for two months due to bad weather,” he added.
The Nigerian pilot recalled how his journey into flying began. “I was inspired to be a pilot from the age of 10. I recall the habit of making kites out of the newspaper that my father bought until I got myself in trouble. When I got the opportunity to travel out of the country, I saw it as an opportunity to get closer to my dream. I enrolled in the training as a pilot.”
On how he survived, he revealed, “I lived on water and energy bars just to avoid food as I didn’t have access to toilets.”
Asked why the project which has drawn global attention to Nigeria is not backed by the government or relevant authorities, Ademilola lamented that he was turned down. His words, “I approached the authorities but they didn’t show support and I think this was down to people around the key figures. Fundamentally, I think there was the issue of do-ability. I do not think they saw me as somebody capable of flying around the world.”
In his goodwill message relayed by video, Ooni of Ife, Oba Ogunwusi commended the determination exhibited by the young adventurer.
“When Ademilola Odujinrin approached me, I blessed him and prayed that he will go and return in peace. I am happy with his feat and I thank the almighty God for his life.
“I hope Nigerian youths can draw inspiration from his laudable achievement. I am happy that although a lot of people around the world know Nigeria for negative news, this is something positive that Nigeria can be celebrated,” he added.
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