A direct question first: would you agree to flying in a plane piloted by a female pilot? This question is necessary because many people, including women, would not agree to fly in a plane piloted by a female pilot; and where they agree to it, they will display visible uneasiness throughout the flight.
Why is this? It is because people have been stereotyped into thinking that females can never be good pilots and must not be trusted with flight controls in the cockpit. It is considered that aviation is only for men; that women could be flight attendants, but never pilots. And this is a perception that Nigeria’s newest female pilot, Ladidi Victoria Kolo, is set to overturn by her latest qualification as a licensed private pilot.
Celebrating the joys and achievement of Nigeria’s newest female pilot
Victoria Kolo is graduate of Sociology from Kwara State. She is from the Nupe tribe. She obtained a Private Pilot License from Machi Aviation Academy in South Africa and currently has admission offers to train for a commercial pilot license from the United States and South Africa.
Victoria started flight school after her university graduation with the help of her father and father’s friend. Her father sold their only family car to pay some of her flight training costs but the proceeds from the car was very negligible and didn’t do much to help clear her fees. But her father’s friend, Akin Eric Garuba, who had earlier assisted with her admission rose to her help by clearing most of her training costs.
“I am really grateful to God and to him because if it wasn’t his kindness I won’t be flying now,” Victoria said in an interview published in the blog Abiyamo.
“I also got the support of my community and I am grateful. My sincere appreciation also goes to my royal fathers, the Emir of Patigi HRH , Alhaji Ibrahim Chatta, the Emir of Shonga , HRH Dr Alh Haliru Ndanusa Yahaya, for their fatherly royal blessings and moral support (may their stool wax stronger.) Here I am today, a humble Nupe girl now a Class 1 pilot,” she added.
Victoria’s current challenge in obtaining a commercial pilot license
While Victoria is eternally grateful for people who have been of assistance to ensure she obtained her Private Pilot License, she still looks forward to help to obtain her Commercial Pilot License from either the United States or South Africa. This currently costs about $57,000 for the 6-9 month flight training course.
Victoria looks up to Senator Ruykayat Gbemi Saraki, Aisha Buhari, and Hajia Aisha Alihassan among others as her role model. Maybe these would do well to come to her assistance to enable her realize her dream of becoming a licensed commercial pilot after obtaining her qualifications.
Challenges of becoming a female pilot the world over
A 2015 statistics cited that “there are now 127 female pilots in Nigeria out of a total number of 2,958 pilots in the country.” While it is expected that the number of female pilots may have risen since then, the truth remains that the number of female pilots compared to male pilots is very negligible.
Worldwide, there are 4,000 female commercial pilots compared to 130,000 male commercial pilots according to an article published in The International Society of Women Airline Pilots. The paucity of female pilots has been examined in various articles published by the BBC, The Telegraph, and several other top publications; and analyzed by stakeholders in several forums, according to Ventures Africa.
It is not that females don’t want to fly airplanes; the problem is with societal acceptance and training opportunities. Governments all over the world are encouraging women from all backgrounds to participate more in politics, education, and industry among others – but aviation and technology should not be an exception.
Governments would do more to help women aspiring to build a career in aviation by subsidizing training costs, providing an enabling environment, and disabusing the idea that certain industries such as aviation should only be for men.