Nigerian becomes youngest commercial pilot in Nigeria and South Africa

Young, Gifted & Black Series

By Taki S. Raton

Favour Odozor

Described as being the new hope of the African aviation industry, this 20 year-old has always dreamt of becoming a pilot.

He is young, gifted and Black. Favour Odozor has emerged this year as becoming the youngest person to have earned a Commercial Pilot License (CPL) in both Nigeria and South Africa. Favour graduated recently on April 13, 2013 along with 15 other trained pilots from the Afrika Union Aviation Academy (AUAA) in Mafikeng, South Africa.

“Flying a plane has been my childhood dream, and I am happy today that I’m a licensed commercial pilot at the age of 20,” says Favour as quoted in an Effiong Eton blog posted on April 15, 2013.

He adds that he “never expected to be the youngest Nigerian to get the commercial pilot licenses. I was just pursuing my childhood dream.”

Captain Allan Roebuck, Director of AUAA said that the pilot trainees had to undergo two years of “rigorous training and 37 flying procedures.” Roebuck said that Favour completed all of his 37 flying procedures in record time.

According to a web descriptor, the AUAA provides “aspirant pilots with the method and means to fulfill their sky high dreams,” and is committed to promoting “the highest possible standard of training and airmanship.” With a vision of becoming the first Aviation University on the African continent, the academy campus consists of aircraft hangers, operations and simulator centers, briefing rooms and an on-campus student accommodations and recreation center.

Roebuck says of the extensive training, as noted in an “AlabamaU2” posting, that, “It is not enough to be academically sound to be a good pilot. It requires a lot of hard work, focus, punctuality and discipline to get the commercial license and certificate.”

The flight school director adds that the academy is proud of Favour and of his accomplishment and submits that he cannot contend that the young Nigerian is the youngest ever to have attained this record, but that he “is sure that he is the youngest in South Africa and Nigeria” to have earned this recognition in both countries.

Roebuck adds that “It has been a long road for the group of qualified pilots to obtain their licenses. With the award of the certificate, they can fly commercial planes.”

Favour says that his immediate plans now are to pursue his instrument and rating courses: “Aviation training is very wide. This is just the beginning. My immediate plan is to enroll for my instrument type rating and Boeing 737 training courses.”

Prior to attending the AUAA, this young Nigerian attended Uchenna Secondary School in Owerri, the Imo State capital, graduating in 2009.

Favour Odozor would not be the first young Black pilot that “Young, Gifted & Black” has featured. Flying since he was 8-yearsold, Jonathan Strickland was included last year in this series on February 25, 2012. At the age of 16 on March 15, 2008, he would become the youngest Black pilot to solo six fixed-wing airplanes and one helicopter, all within six hours, thus setting six world records.

As chronicled by Bill Cox in the Sept. 1, 2008 Plane & Pilot, Jonathan respectively soloed a Robinson R44 helicopter, a Cessna 172RG, a new glass-panel Cessna 172 SP, a Piper Warrior, a Sting Sport LSA and a Remos LSA.

Strickland established two new world records that Saturday at L.A.’s Compton Woodley Airport. He would become the youngest African American male to solo six different airplanes and a second record for soloing six airplanes plus one helicopter – all on the same day.

This feat, however, earned him the two world records that would be added on top of the four that he earned two years earlier. Writes Jessica Ambats in the March 1, 2007 Plane & Pilot, Strickland at 14 carved his name in aviation history in 2006 by soloing a Cessna and a helicopter on the same day.

In 1921, Bessie Coleman would become the first African American woman in the world to earn an international pilot’s license.

In 1965, William R. Norwood became the first African American pilot to fly for United Airlines and Jill Brown in 1978 at the age of twenty-eight would be the first African American woman to fly for a commercial airline when she was hired into this industry by Texas International.

Young Favour has now earned his place in the ranks of African aerial history makers.

“I thank God that I have now made history as a record licensed commercial pilot in both Nigeria and South Africa,” says Favour.

Ben Williams in his April 16, 2013 Peace Ben Williams blog shares that news like this makes me so happy. I’m proud of Favour for putting Nigerian youths in good light in the news. God bless all your endeavors.”