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Do You Know Chinyere Kalu? The First Nigerian Female Commercial Pilot

Chinyere Kalu, MFR (née Onyenucheya) is the first Nigerian female commercial pilot and the first woman to fly an aircraft in Nigeria. She served as the rector and chief instructor of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology between October 2011 and February 2014.

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Background of Chinyere Kalu

A native of Ukwa East in Abia State, Southeastern Nigeria, Chinyere Kalu was born in 1970. Kalu grew up under the care of her mother after the separation of her parents but in a very supportive big family. She decided to begin her career in Aviation because of her adventurous aunt, who was well fond of frequent international travels.

Growing up, She had her primary school education at Anglican Girls Grammar School, Yaba, Lagos State, before she trained as a private and commercial pilot in 1978 at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria under SP.12 Batch. She subsequently took several aviation and transport courses in the United Kingdom and the United States before she received her license as a commercial pilot on May 20, 1981, from the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology.

Obtaining a Commercial Pilot License

Kalu is the first Nigerian female commercial pilot and the first woman to fly an aircraft in Nigeria. What does this entail? Obtaining a commercial pilot licence (CPL) – a type of pilot license that permits the holder to act as a pilot of an aircraft and be paid for his/her work.

The basic requirements to obtain the license and the privileges it confers are agreed internationally by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). However, the actual implementation varies quite widely from country to country. According to ICAO, to be eligible for a commercial pilot license, the applicant must; be able to read, speak, write, and understand English already hold a private pilot license has received training in the areas of a commercial pilot successfully complete the relevant written exams. Applicants for a CPL (aeroplanes) must also have completed a solo cross-country flight of at least 300 nm with full-stop landings at two airfields other than the pilot’s airfield of origin.


Kalu is a force to be reckoned with in the aviation world. She is a member of the Nigerian Women Achievers Hall of Fame and also a Member of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which was conferred upon her in 2006. Other awards on her include the African International Achievers Merit Award 2007; the Rare Gems Professional Achievements Award 2007; and Nigeria’s 50 Greatest Women of Democratic Administration of Ghana 2012.

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Chinyere Kalu always wanted to travel the world and have an adventurous lifestyle. So she decided to take up the truly male-dominated and very difficult career in order to become the first female pilot in Nigeria. In October 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan appointed her the Rector and Chief Instructor of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (which is mostly known as NCAT). In February 2014, she was succeeded by Captain Samuel Caulcrick. Before that, Chinyere Kalu was leading the College’s Flying School. There Chinyere Kalu worked as a contractual instructor.



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Jeremiah Aluwong

Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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