Congrats on your extraordinary achievement. What message do you hope to send to Africa with this incredible feat?
To be honest, I still can’t believe it. I am still in the process of coming to the realisation that my lifelong dream has finally been accomplished. I want this to inspire others to follow in my footsteps. I had a dream as a child and managed to see it through with self-belief, commitment, and dedication. I look forward to seeing a new generation of young pilots, as well as a thriving aviation industry in the region. I hope to continue inspiring them through my foundation, Project Transcend.
I would also like governments in Africa to realise how important the aviation industry is for the region’s future development. Globally, the aviation industry represents a huge opportunity where more African economies can play a role.
To put your historic flight into context, how rare is it to have pilots doing worldwide solo expeditions? And how long did it take to organise your journey?
It’s a huge challenge both physically and mentally, which is why there have not been many pilots to accomplish this feat. Organising the journey itself is one of the greatest challenges I was faced with, even more so than physically flying the plane around the world. From getting the necessary permits in the different countries I stopped in, to getting through customs and overcoming other logistical aspects, all of this posed difficulties that were overcome as the journey progressed.
There were numerous instances where I waited, for what seemed like an eternity, for a permit to come through or for the weather to change. But thanks to the support of my family, as well as sponsors like Tolaram Group, Translynx Nigeria Ltd, and Air Djibouti, I persisted and accomplished my dream.
When and where did your tour start?
The journey began in Washington D.C. on 26th June 2016 and ended there as well. I made 35 stops in 25 countries, such as Italy, Singapore, Bangladesh, and Australia, among others.
My most memorable part of the journey was having to take off from Hilo in Hawaii with 25% over gross mass takeoff weight of the aircraft. On top of everything, this was a 14-hour flight over the Pacific Ocean to California at 2 a.m. There was no moon and, therefore, no visual reference. It was an extremely nervous moment which called on every skill I had acquired in all my years of flying.
The already tense moment was made even more terrifying when I got into some challenging weather and my HF radio (long distance radio equipment) stopped working. Extremely long flights of this nature are usually impossible without 2-way communications with ATC (Air Traffic Control).
What would you like to say to African kids dreaming of being pilots one day?
My message would be to believe in themselves. If I can do it, so can they. We all have a voice inside us that guides us towards our destiny and we should listen to it and not let it be silenced by others who may not believe in what we can accomplish. Investing in adventures that defy expectations and the status quo is also investing in the future of the region.
My work is not done here and through Project Transcend, I will continue to do my part in helping the younger generations accomplish their dreams.