Capt. Ademilola Odujirin has been flying for past 17 years. He was trained in the United Kingdom and United States of America and flew for Arik Air for five years. He recounts his experience to WOLE SHADARE
If you liken him to Ajala who travelled round the world, you won’t be wrong. He did what many could not do by flying nine months around the world. That was Capt. Ademilola Odujinrin who did a solo flight in his aircraft, the upgraded Cirus SR 22 He is the first African to fly solo around the world.
His aircraft with registration number N313CD is nine years old. Odujinrin revealed that the aircraft could fly 17 and half hours with special configuration before refuelling.
Recounting his experience when he met with the media on Thursday, Odujinrin said: “If flying nine months around the world has taught me anything, it is to be determined, never to give up no matter how the odds are stacked up against me.
That is the same encouragement and motivation I pass on to our youths. I embarked on this dream to change the narrative for Africans for Nigerians in particular, and this is what we at Transcend are doing.” Odujinrin who just completed his most amazing journey becoming the 114th pilot to fly around the world explained that the flight which was meant to last for a period of six weeks, was extended further to nine months due to constraints relating to finance and certain technical difficulties. This however, did not deter him as the plan was to fulfil his childhood dream of flying round the world.
This dream was first given wings on the streets of Lagos when as a kid with his kite in hands, he would look at aircraft flying to their destinations. He knew then he was in love with flying and wanted to fly around the world. Lola, according to his narration, was not a blue-blood and even as he chased his dream after he went to the United Kingdom, he did not have 800 pounds to train as a commercial pilot and so he would go to school every evening and work a nine to five the rest of the day to achieve his dreams.
He became a pilot and even while flying both as first officer and captain, he kept on rehashing his dreams to fly around the world, which most of his colleagues thought was just crazy talk until he was linked up with Transcend Project Director, Ladi Ani-Mumuney.
The captain had initially planned his successful round the world trip to commence from Nigeria but after months of scouring the country with his team and meeting various sponsors who would eventually back out or show no commitment, he eventually took off from Washington District of Columbia (DC) and made his trip round the world and back to Washington DC.
According to his itinerary, Captain Odujinrin flew into 25 countries and made 35 stops in his nine- month sojourn on his upgraded Cirus SR 22 aircraft. Powered only by sheer determination, guts and the will to succeed, he set out to do the African continent proud.
His 25 countries and 35 stops journey included, in no particular order, the commencement from the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Airport Washington DC and was flagged off by the Ooni of Ife, His Royal Highness (HRH) Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, who was exceptional in his encouragement of the young pilot in his quest to achieve his goals.
The countries he flew to included, Washington DC-America, Yaoundé- Cameroon; Nairobi-Kenya, Djibouti Ambouli-Djibouti, Aswan-Egypt, Bahrain-Bahrain, Surat Airport (Gujarat City)-India, Chittagong Shah Amanat-Bangladesh, Singapore Seletar- Singapore, Bali Int-Indonesia, Darwin- Australia; Gold Coast-Australia, Port Vila- Bauerfield Vanuatu, Pago Pago Intl-America Samao, Christmas Island Cassidy Int-Kiribati.
Honolulu Int-America, Van Nuys- America, William P Hobby-America, Lynchburg Airport-America, Goose Bay- Canada, Reykjavik-Iceland, Stapleford- England, Gibraltart International Airport- Spain; Niamey Diori Hamani-Niger. According to his narration, from Washington DC he flew to Canada, Iceland, Scotland, London, Valencia in Spain, Malta, Rome, Greece, Egypt, Djibouti, Oman, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Singapore, where he said the weather was most challenging as he was stuck in South East Asia for two months owing to the rains.
From there he flew to Indonesia, Bali, Australia, Port Villa, Pego Pego, Christmas Island, Hawai before he travelled 14 hours nonstop across the ocean to California, Texas before he arrived at his final destination of Washington DC.
It was reported on June 10, 2016, during his trying time for this amazing pilot that finances and logistics hindered the initial start off and that due to lack of sponsorship and other logistics that could cut the cost of the flight including fuel, the flight may take-off from Washington DC.
In fact at that point through extensive investigation, it was discovered and reported that it was cheaper to start flying from the United Kingdom, the United States or even the United Arab Emirates as the cost of Jet A1 is far cheaper in those areas than what you get in Nigeria and even some potential backers were asking ‘what is in it for me?’ and that hindered the project.
Despite the setback, the goal never changed: to change the narrative only this time something else was added to that, to change the narrative, against all odds as the pilot showed in his tenacity to grind out a result.
On what next for this pilot that has put Africa and indeed Nigeria on the world map, Odujinrin said: “I am actively involved in innovative ideas to help the youth believe, in an environment where you can, against all odds achieve your dreams.”
“It would be nice to have a Nigerian company believe in and fund these kinds of projects but none of them did in this case but we take a lesson from that and the lesson is there are many great things out there and we (as a people) are stopping amazing things from becoming reality.
So, the hope is that the corporate world would get involved to help create that enabling environment for dreams to be actualised.”
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