24 November 2012

Nigeria: A High Flyer in a Very Literal Sense


On a recent Arik Air flight from Lagos to Accra, passengers thrilled by a turbulence-free flight and smooth landing of the aircraft, passengers queue to catch a glimpse of the pilot. It turns out to be Ayeni Anthony Oluwaseun, a rather shy pilot who is one of the youngest in arik's fleet. For him though, it's simply another day in a job he loves passionately, writes Azuka Ogujiuba

At what point in your life did you decide to be a pilot?

When l felt I had what it takes, perseverance and a lot of hard work.

So how did your love for flying begin; did your dad in anyway influence your being a pilot?

Watching aircrafts approach to land from the window of my room, seeing the world from a different angle, being an aviator is rewarding and the respect is great. Yeah, my dad did influence my career.

As a pilot have you encountered a near death turbulence that frightened you and drew silent prayers?

Yeah, I have had one with my instructor. We said a loud prayer together. It was quite severe.

I understand your father is a pilot as well; tell us about him and your mother - your background in a nutshell?

My dad is a big inspiration to me and the family. We can talk about aviation all day, being in the same profession for many years now. My mom is a retired customs officer.

How does your mother feel whenever her son and husband are away at work?

She always prays for us both. I must say she is a strong-hearted woman.

And what is her usual reaction when both of you are back home in one piece?

She is grateful to God for answered prayers.

Whenever there is a plane crash, are you reluctant to fly immediately?

All pilots have a mindset, being optimistic, preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. When plane crash happens we learn from it and strive hard to make sure it never occurs again.

Have you ever lost any friend who is a pilot in a plane crash?

No, I haven't; but a friend of mine was in a crash but survived it.

Tell us about your education and where you had your training as a pilot?

I trained in the USA - Phoenix East Aviation, Florida; Panam Aviation Academy, Miami, Florida and Oxford Aviation Academy, UK.

Have you ever flown with your father before and how long have you both been flying?

No, l haven't. My dad has been flying for 30 years now and this is my third year.

Why do pilots and the cabin crew tend to keep a straight face during turbulence as if nothing was happening?

It depends on the type of turbulence we are experiencing. If it is severe enough then we advise passengers about the situation.

How old are you?


Which celebrity in the world would you like to fly as a pilot?

Sean John Combs.

Which president dead or alive would you like to fly?

Barack Obama.

Which star in the world would you like to flip through his or her phone?


Is it true that pilots are very fashionable and stylish people with often sophisticated lifestyle?

Most definitely, we are very social.

What outfit can you not be caught dead in?

Skinny jeans.

If l search through your briefcase what items am I likely to find there?

Passport, logbook, licence, sugar free gum, ipad, sun glasses, etc.

If you are to go on an island for an exotic weekend, what are the five things you will take along?

Ipod, portable speakers, swim suits, wallet and travel bag.

What does the word love mean to you?

Love is a lot like flying - you must let go of what is weighing you down.

What is your most expensive fashion accessory?

My gold chain.

What is the most memorable compliment you have ever received from a woman?

"You have got a lovely smile."

Is there a pilot in the world you admire most and why?

My dad. He is a caring father and a friend.

What is your present BlackBerry ring tone?

Ile Ijo by May D.

If you were president, what would be the first law you will implement?

Corruption-free nation.

Who has been the greatest influence on your life?

God, it's been him all the while. I'm so grateful.

What don't you like about your personality?

I love everything about myself. It's the way I am; wouldn't change nothing about me.

What are the changes or new development aviation has undergone in comparison to the past?

Aviation has witnessed a whole new dimension; before we had steam gauges on aircrafts. Now, it's more of digital.

How do you spend your holidays?

Spending quality time with family and loved ones.

What kind of woman will you take home to your mum?

A God-fearing, loving and caring woman.

What has been your happiest moment?

When I had my first solo flight all by myself.

For you, which matters more to success - ambition or talent?

Both works alongside. For one to be successful you need to dream big. Everyone has a mountain to climb, you just have to find yours.

Are you a label freak; I mean would you save up your last income to procure a designer creation?

To be honest, I'm modest; I wear name brands once in a while but anything that looks good on me would be just fine.

Which celebrity or world figure would you like to dine with?

Hu Jintao - the man who drove China to both economic and financial sustainability.

What's your last word for people who wants to be a pilot?

It is a very expensive venture to be a pilot, but once you are determined and with God on your side, no one can stop you. In short, dream big.

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