Many refer to Captain Dele Ore as an encyclopaedia on aviation matters in Nigeria having being around the sector for 54 years. He rose through the ranks, first as a graduate from Britain Air University (AST), Perth Scotland, Oxford Air Training School, Mannin University, U.K. culminating in the attainment of a commercial pilot licence with instrument rating, multi-engine rating.
This early training set up Ore, described as one of the best pilots Nigeria ever had and who flew many past Nigerian presidents, on his way to flying immortality.
He participated actively in the Nigerian Civil War, as one of the few pilots deployed to the front to provide support to the Federal ground troops and ferrying top government officials.
Ore who is a notable aircraft training captain and Type Rating Examiner – G II is also a consultant on ATSEP and AIS Personnel Licensing Process. He is a former chief pilot and director of flight operations of Nigeria Airways Ltd.
He also served as member, Advisory Council of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria. He is an associate lecturer in air law at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho, Nigeria. Capt. Ore holds a Master’s degree in business administration and is a barrister-at-law.
Not only that, Ore was actively involved in ferrying many African heads of state during a turbulent period of power struggle on the continent and got commendations for his heroic deeds at the expense of his life. No wonder he has the highest national honours of many countries in Africa.
Interestingly, his country has failed to honour him for the many things he has achieved for the country. That sums up his frustration with the system and one that aptly captures the Biblical saying that, “Prophets have no honour at home.”
That has however not diminished the respect commanded by the Septuagenarian who has authored many books and lectures on aviation matters.
Ore’s passion for aviation is infectious as he takes Saturday Telegraph round his life as a pilot and aviation lawyer. Speaking with our correspondent in his Adeniyi Jones Ikeja office, Capt Oladele Ore, said his graduation from a Scottish pilots’ flying school earned him a job the next day when he reported to 32, New Bond Street, London, which he said marked his professional career with Nigeria Airways.
“I went through the ranks to become a flight commander at age 26 going to 27 and by a dint of hard work, got into management as a fleet captain, flight examiner, chief pilot and ultimately director of flight operations.”
Aircraft under his command included but not limited to DC-3, F-27, F28, Gulfstream 2, B707, DC-10 and eventually the jumbo jet B747.
To him, whether small, medium or long range, aircraft preparation for flight follows the same basic activities and provisions, adding that the totality of a successful flight operation is based on discipline, dedication, airmanship and professionalism.
Giving a clear view of what it takes to prepare for a flight, Ore said preparation to a day’s flight begins long before the flight to ensure adequate rest and clean bill of health, especially in relation to alcohol free lifestyle.
He said: “The question I always bear in mind and the appropriate answer in my mind are encapsulated in the idiom, “I’m safe or ask myself, Am I safe”, with the ‘I’ standing for Illness, the ‘M’ stands for medication, the ‘S’ stands forsSleep, ‘A’ stands for alcohol, ‘F’ for fatigue and the ‘E’ stands for eating (nutritious meals).
And I satisfy myself that these questions are answered adequately.” “I considered myself very lucky that in our flying base, we were picked up from our homes with dignity, arriving at the airport long enough to prepare for the flight.
There is a presumption that before arrival at the airport, the flight dispatchers would have gone through the routine to obtain flight plan information, pay-load instructions, meteorological information and relevant notices to airmen (NOTAM), fuel requirements, aircraft status and aircraft location.
With available information, there was the usual pre-flight crew briefing. The flight crew in consultation with the maintenance crew ensure that the work round inspection of the aircraft is carried out.
Further pre-flight briefing including the cabin crew is usually carried out. The aircraft is properly dispatched and made ready for service and depending on air traffic and weather situation, passengers are made to board the flight.”
He stated that it had been pre-planned that a journey from point A to B had alternate airport, stressing that all operations were governed by company standard operating procedure with available reference materials, flight manual checklist.
Information about the flight, he, said was usually passed on to the air traffic controllers for monitoring of operations. He also stated that by training, pilots are made to be ready and made to be prepared for any emergency situations, adding that with about 15, 000 hours flight experience, he could recount many pleasurable flights to various parts of the world.
He looks back at occasions he had had to cope with some challenges such as malfunctions of engines or aircraft systems, engine failure, engine fire, very adverse weather condition and unruly passengers He recalled the most serious challenge which could qualify as incident or serious incident happened once when he was flying between Lagos and Calabar. “The Calabar airport was shut and early morning rain had flooded the runway.
There was no information about it given to us. Apart from clearing the cloud, it was impossible to stop the plane resulting in aquaplaning.
The F-28 aircraft had no reverse thrust and the aircraft glided like a sea plane culminating in the aircraft over running the runway by a few meters,” he said.
“As luck would have it, the clearway was hardened to support the weight of the aircraft. The passengers had to be disembarked and the aircraft towed back to the ramp in a wet and rainy condition. Surely, this caused destruction to the aircraft.
I called for maintenance crew to inspect the aircraft and it was repaired to continue under my command.” He recalls another incident: “I had my own measure of emergencies; mostly on the F-28 aircraft.
This aircraft as beautiful as it is has so many weaknesses. I took off in another F-28 aircraft on Lagos-Port-Harcourt route without incident. On return, we had fire warning despite the heavy weight of the aircraft.We performed all the necessary emergency procedures and returned after take-off with one engine without any further incident.
Engineers were called from Lagos and they fixed the problem.” With a wide smile, Ore revealed that he had several unforgettable weather experiences between Douala and Nairobi on Nigeria Airways’ twice weekly scheduled services.
He recounted that while he was in charge of Presidential fleet of aircraft: “We had a very memorable landing at Seychelles Airport which was situated in between barley and the runway just running short of the coastline.
“The flight was memorable because the whole island was invaded by mercenaries and we brought in then Nigeria’s Minister of External Affairs, Major General Joseph Garba (rtd), on a peace mission that originated from Mauritius.” “A B707 with the then Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo on a seven-day trip to Montego Bay was unforgettable.
There were several diplomatic shuttles for the active participation in the diplomatic soldiering that took us on several flights under, my command, to most of the frontline states carrying rebel leaders who ended up as leaders of their countries.”
A trip to Equatorial Guinea, Congo Brazzaville with Guinean President on a night stop in Congo threw him into a dilemma. Just before departure, the Nigerian Embassy in that country called his attention and that of the crew to the death of the leader who had just been assassinated.
The instruction handed to him upon leaving Lagos was to take the Guinea Prime Minister to Bakar to Brazzaville to Luanda and back to Lagos and off again to Conakry. Shortly after, the airport in Lagos was closed by the new military junta.
The Prime Minister of Guinea who was Ore’s passenger did not wish to continue the flight to Luanda, his planned destination. Ore, who did not have the authority to take him to another place had special permission to land in Lagos and hurriedly arranged for diplomatic permit which was granted to him to visit Dodan Barrack.
They however got instruction to land in Conakry. That was the last trip that earned the revered pilot highest national award for his bravery and professionalism.
“The national troupe was brought out and I was highly honoured to be sitting side by side President Sekou Toure of Guinea who presented me with the national award.
It was also a big honour to have flown former President Olusegun Obasanjo to several international events on the B707 aircraft. The most memorable ones being to Bucharest, Bulgaria and another one to Warsaw, Poland.
The Gulfstream 2 remains my favourite aircraft. It is a high performance airplane and we covered many cities in the US, Canada and UAE with it.”