Nigerian Pilot, Ademilola Odujinrin

Mary Ekah

Ademilola Odujinrin, 38-year-old Nigerian pilot, has traversed the world on a single engine aircraft from USA to Iceland then Europe and into Africa via UAE, India, and Asian subcontinent, thereby making history as the first African to fly round the world.

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 Limited 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.

Explaining the mission behind the lone world tour, Odujinrin, said 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.

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 add that the fear of failure is one of my motivations. 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.”

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 opportunity to travel out of the country, I saw it as an opportunity to get closer to my dream. I enrolled to train 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 government or relevant authorities, Odujinrin 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 round the world.”