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Tuesday, 17 November 2015

From Anglia Ruskin University to Epic Flight Academy

Industry, intelligence and zeal have a meeting point in Saliu Usman. As a boy growing in the village, one day, he heard a loud sound in the sky and looked up, and it was an aircraft. He beat his chest and said, one day, he was going to fly one.
Today, that dream of many years ago has come true. Usman, who recently turned 24 is one of the youngest civilian commercial pilots in Nigeria, and has etched his name as the first American-trained civilian commercial pilot from Niger State.
Unlike many who from secondary school go into aviation school, Usman, had first studied Computer Science at Anglia Ruskin University, United Kingdom, and made first class honour degree. In order to satisfy his unquenchable passion for knowledge, and to realize his childhood dream, he proceeded to Epic Flight Academy, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168, USA, and qualified as commercial pilot three months ago. He spoke with Campus Sun on how he was able to actualize his childhood dream.
He said he returned to Nigeria about three months ago with commercial pilot licence and is hoping to get a job and contribute his quota to the development of the nation’s aviation industry. “I am a commercial pilot individual in fixed wings, fixed wings are the normal planes that are used for commercial purposes”, Usman said.
On what led him into piloting, even when he had a first-class degree in computer science, that would make him highly priced in the labour market, he said, it was his childhood dream. “I was actually in primary school when I heard a loud noise in the sky and just looked up to see what it was. Behold, it was an aeroplane, and I said, I would want to be the man flying such thing when I grow up. Just like that and a supportive dad, who made me realize this dream.” According to him, his father, who is a senior police officer, had also wanted to be a pilot but there wasn’t anyone to support his ambition.
He said, his father saw it as a great challenge to make sure his son’s dream was realized since circumstances in his time made it difficult for him to be a pilot. He said: “My dad was ready to make so much sacrifices to make sure that what he was not able to realize because of circumstance at his time, that his son could not be stopped by circumstance of his time. My dad said, since he was not able to realise his dream that he was going to do everything humanly possible to make sure that his son realized his own dream. So, he supported me beyond measures to cause this dream to become true.”
The 24-year-old, said that his age is no hindrance as the minimum age to be a commercial pilot is 18, and noted that he is one of the youngest pilots in Nigeria. “I should be one of the youngest commercial pilots in Nigeria, and in my state, Niger, I am the first American-trained civilian commercial pilot.
“Few other pilots in Nigeria may be in the same age bracket with me. Some of them might not have got a degree before going to aviation school, while some might have from high school gone to aviation school. Only very, very few of us got first degree before flying. I have already got my first degree in Computer Science, with first class, before going to aviation school.”
Relieving his first-time experience of flying an aircraft, he said, it would remain memorable. According to him, “even though it is a bit scary for some people, since it was my long-time dream, there were the passion, zeal and the courage and other factors that added up to make me exude great confidence. My first time in the cockpit was very exciting. I’m a private pilot licence with instrument and also a commercial pilot with instrument, both single engine and multi engine.”
On the distance he can fly as a young pilot, Usman, said, a young pilot doesn’t have specific flight limit.
“Whatever the distance, in as much as you have the typewriting to fly the bigger jet or even if you are flying the smaller planes, you can fly as much as you can in as much as you have also IAFA flying plan; there is no limit of where you can go. However, if an aircraft has 12,000 pounds and over, you need a typewriting, which is to make you, basically, fly a larger aircraft. Flying aircraft is not like driving a car, whereby you can drive Honda, Toyota or Ford etc. Aircraft is not like that; you cannot just go and start flying Boeing without typewriting to get used to the system. If you do typewriting for Boeing, it doesn’t give you the automatic ticket to fly an Airbus. To fly the Airbus, you need to do the typewriting. For every model of aircraft, you have to do typewriting.
“I can fly a light twin-engine aircraft, mostly for personal use. Before you can fly a bigger jet, it is either the company sponsored you for typewriting or you sponsored yourself. Basically, if you get a job the company sends you for typewriting. When a company acquires a big aircraft, the manufacturer usually gives them some slots for them to bring their fresh pilots to gain advance knowledge of the aircraft.”
On his view on the aviation industry, he said it is quite tasking but very interesting if you understand how it works, adding that, “it is the best sector I want to work to expand and impact knowledge on others. The aviation industry in Nigeria though is still growing, but for a young pilot it may not be all that easy because it has to do with their flight hours, and typewriting. But for young pilot, if you meet the requirements, there is opening for fresh pilots or low hour pilots (that is, those who just came out from flying school, and would be sent for typewriting.) Generally, there is no place that it is very easy.”
He said he has the certification of National Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), pointing out that, “when you come back, the first thing you do is to convert your licence, which is what I have done. So, I’m free to fly in the Nigerian airspace.”

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