A Man’s World”
Although the patriarchal narrative defining women as predominantly domesticated has witnessed a gradual shift over the past decade – as reflected in today’s headlines, evidently with the aviation industry witnessing a slight increase in terms of percentage of women taking up leading roles ( female pilots now at 7.3 percent,) a lot of work still beggars to be done towards recognition of significant contributions of the female gender in societal development.
Think of a people open to change, see a more inclusive, equitable world filled with abundant limitless opportunities where fast forward innovative thinkers thrive, scaling heights, hence, creating a better future.
Today we highlight 5 remarkable women who have been able to rise against the odds and etch their names in Nigeria’s aviation history. In no particular order:
CAPTAIN CHINYERE KALU – Nigeria’s First Female Pilot
Raised by a single mother without the influence of a father figure but inspired by her go-getter aunt who was the first woman from her hometown to travel overseas, an excited Captain Chinyere Kalu took on the aviation world. Today she stands proudly as a pacesetter in Nigeria’s aviation sector, upon her making history as the first female commercial pilot and the first woman to fly an aircraft in Nigeria -the TBM-850.
Born in 1970, a native of Ukwa East, Abia, state, Nigeria,
Kalu had her professional training as a Private and Commercial Pilot in 1978 at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria under SP.12 Batch. Upon completion, she decided to take on various aviation and transport courses in the United Kingdom and the United States. May 20, 1981 would be written in Nigeria’s history books, Capt. Chinyere Kali received her license as a commercial pilot on from the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, becoming the first woman to achieve the feat.
Following her immense contribution towards inspiring others, Captain Chinyere Kalu in 2006 was made a member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR). Between 2011 and 2014, she served as the Rector and Chief Executive of Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), the largest aviation training institute in Africa.
ADEOLA OGUNMOLA SOWEMIMO- The first Nigerian female pilot with Qatar Airways
Adeola Ogunmola Sowemimo the first female Nigerian pilot with Qatar Airways also makes history as the first woman to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Born the last of three in 1990, in Kaduna state although she hails from Oyo State, Adeola a graduate of the Ladoke Akintola University then decided to pursue aviation after her first degree proceeding to the Sunrise Aviation flight school, a top professional pilot training school located in Ormond Beach, Florida, she graduated in 2011.
She joined Medview Airlines in 2013 where she stayed till October 2018, she worked first as a First officer on Boeing 737 classic, before upgrading to Boeing 767-300ER. October 2018, Adeola joined Qatar Airways.
History was made when Adeola Ogunmola Sowemimo became the first Nigerian female pilot to work for Qatar Airways.
She is also the first female Nigerian to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for Qatar Airways- she successfully flew the aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean.
LADIDI VICTORIA KOLO
Passion has always taken center stage in Victoria Kolo’s life. As a child she had always been fascinated by aeroplanes but went on a different path regardless. But fate was having none if it; After bagging her first degree in Sociology, Victoria decided to face her fears and delve into her passion but it was a seemingly unrealistic dream, following the high cost of training but many thanks to her family and her father’s friend who had to sell personal belongings to foot the bill, today the Kwara state indigene is a certified Class 1 pilot.
Kolo who obtained a Private Pilot License from Machi Aviation Academy in South Africa made massive headlines way back in 2016, as at then, she had admission offers to train for a commercial pilot license from the United States and South Africa.
KAFAYAH SANNI – Nigeria’s First Female Fighter Pilot
In 2019, 22 year old Kafayah Sanni made history as the first female fighter pilot in the 55-year-old history of the Nigerian Air Force. Proudly standing amongst her contemporaries – all male
whom were decorated at the NAF Headquarters in Abuja on October 15.
Before smashing headlines, in 2017, Sanni emerged best overall pilot at the NAF 401 Flying Training School, Kaduna State, from there she proceeded to the United States of America to train at the US Aviation Leadership Programme. Before coming back to base to undergo rigorous regular combat training at the Nigerian Defence Academy to be winged for a fixed wing fighter aircraft.
Sanni who had always wanted to be a fighter pilot explains she was driven to join aviation because of the urgent need to tackle insurgency and bring about much needed stability in Nigeria.
BLESSING LIMAN – Nigeria’s First Female Military Pilot
Born 13 March 1984, a descent of Zangon Kataf local government area of Kaduna State, Northern Nigeria, Blessing Liman enlisted into the Nigerian Air Force in July 2011.
On 27 April 2012, she made history by becoming Nigeria’s first pilot in the Nigerian Air Force. She was commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) as a Flying Officer, alongside 126 Direct Short Service Course 20\2011 Cadets of 325 Ground Training Group in Kaduna.
The 36 year old is an alumnus of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology.
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