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Did You Know? Ademilola ‘Lola’ Odujinrin: The First African Pilot To Fly Solo Around The World

 

Ademilola “Lola” Odujinrin is a British-born Nigerian aircraft pilot. In 2017, he became the first African pilot in history to fly solo around the world. Odujinrin works for Air Djibouti.


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Biography

Lola was born in South London and moved to Nigeria at a young age. When he was 20 years old, he qualified for his Private Pilot License (PPL) in 19 days. Lola was trained in the UK and US flying for Arik Air for five years before working for Air Djibouti.

Since earning his commercial license in 2011 Lola has logged over 4,000 hours as a commercial Boeing 737 pilot.

Ademilola completed his “One Man, One Plane” expedition on March 29, 2017. He landed at Washington Dulles International Airport, the same airport he departed from in June 2016. In completing his journey, he became the first African and the ninth British pilot to fly around the world solo.

He is one of only 117 people in the world to have achieved this, more people have currently flown into space than have flown around the world solo. The flight was part of Project Transcend, a foundation that aims to inspire young people in order to achieve their goals regardless of their personal circumstances.

At age 38, he began his journey which he had been planning since 2014. He flew for nine months, stopping in more than 15 countries on five continents. The flight was completed in a specially configured light single aircraft, Cirrus SR22, which could fly for around four hours before needing to refuel. The aircraft weighed around half the size of an average family car. Lola faced several problems both before and during his trip.

On his first flight, he had to start a Go Fund Me page in order to pay for petrol; he also took three long stops throughout the expedition to earn money to be able to continue. Lola met fellow pilot Bruce Dickinson during his journey, who helped to fund the rest of his journey

The expedition saw Lola fly from Washington to Canada, via John F. Kennedy International Airport, then to Iceland, Scotland, England, Valencia, Malta, Egypt, Djibouti, Oman, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Thailand.


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From Thailand, it took him 4 weeks to arrive in Darwin, Australia. He did not make a stop in Africa, reportedly due to a lack of corporate sponsorship in Nigeria.

The largest height in which a light single aircraft has flown is 56,000 feet and Lola is currently planning to break this record and reach 60,000 feet.

The Journey

Ademilola (Lola) Oyewale Odujinrin landed at Washington Dulles international airport on March 29 2017, having set off 276 days prior on June 26. He wants to inspire the next generation to chase their goals.

The journey was the culmination of a project he had started in 2014, three years after becoming a professional commercial pilot in 2011, a previous lifelong goal.

In his speech at the event, Lola talked about the many obstacles he overcame to achieve his dreams and complete his historic trip.

“I want people to know that nothing is impossible if you have a vision and you act with purpose and intent. My goal is to continue to break new grounds and give back to my community – Elephant & Castle – which supported me through my darkest times.”

After being born in Elephant & Castle, he and his family moved to Nigeria when Lola was a toddler.

He became fascinated by flight from a young age. He said on his blog: “I remember vividly making paper kites and flying them into the night.”

This led to Lola dreaming of seeing the world from the air and motivated him to move back to London at 18 years old to study Aerospace Engineering at the Queen Mary University of London.

After many years of work to become a commercial and privately licensed pilot, Lola achieved his first wing as a private pilot when he was 20.

Sources:

Moyo, Moza (2017-04-12). “Meet The First African To Fly Solo Around The World”. Africa.com

Wikipedia

Featured Image Source: Time Out


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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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