Chinyere Kalu may be a former Rector and Chief Instructor of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology. She tells TOFARATI IGE about her career, changes she is going to wish to see within the aviation industry and other issues
When was the primary time you knew you wanted to become a pilot?
That was in 1974 once we were asked to write down an essay on the career we wanted to pursue. I had initially thought of being an stewardess but due to how they’re exposed to men, I felt it wouldn’t be on behalf of me due to my faith as a Christian. That was once I thought of becoming a pilot.
What were the memorable moments of your childhood?
One of the foremost memorable moments of my childhood was the day I bought a doll from my savings. Thereafter, I designed and sewed a dress for it. That was very memorable on behalf of me because I achieved something on my very own . Another memory that stands out was once I made a pant for myself immediately after the war . i actually felt pleased with myself.
Also, i used to be loved and pampered by my father. The day i used to be taken to the Federal Palace Hotel in Lagos was another moment I cherished because i used to be awed by the place.
You talked about sewing on variety of occasions. Was fashion designing your childhood ambition?
Yes, it had been one among those things I enjoyed. I did quite little bit of knitting, sewing and embroidery. I sewed a number of my children’s clothes.
What were your other ambitions?
I wanted to try to to something extraordinary. i really like adventures and things that might tax me. So, i assumed of flying and travelling to different places to ascertain the wonders of the planet . I always wish to try my hands on anything that’s difficult and challenging.
Which schools did you attend?
Before the war , I attended St George’s School in Aba (Abia State). After the war, I attended Lagos Progressive grade school in Surulere. For my education , I visited Lagos Anglican Girls Grammar School, also in Surulere.
Studying to be a pilot is sort of expensive. How were you ready to raise funds for your education?
I was quite fortunate to be taken in as a cadet pilot therefore the school sponsored me. I didn’t need to pay any fees. Otherwise, i might have searched for sponsorship from airlines, which was what a number of my colleagues did.
What were a number of the challenges you faced while studying to be a pilot?
there have been tons of challenges. As a trailblazer, i used to be sometimes doubtful and fearful that i used to be being too ambitious. At that point , I had never seen a female pilot, whether locally or internationally. At times, I felt i used to be within the wrong place. Also, I didn’t completely find it easy with a number of my colleagues and instructors. i used to be never given any preference. At times, they even made things harder on behalf of me for having the effrontery to return into a website that was exclusively for men. it had been a touch challenging but my constant prayer and my faith in God strengthened me. i used to be also encouraged by certain people and by the grace of God, I succeeded.
Yes, there have been variety of times I felt like abandoning but i used to be encouraged by the Christian brothers within the school at the time. They told me I could make it and that they helped me in areas where i used to be struggling in my studies.
In aviation school, they weed people out along the road . On Fridays, they typically brought brown envelopes which contained letters of dismissal. That kept me on my toes and put tons of fear in me. tons of times, i used to be always on the sting and that i constantly asked myself if it had been really what God wanted on behalf of me . However, the brown envelope never came on behalf of me and God helped me to tug through.
Did your parents and other relations support your decision to become a pilot?
Yes, they did. If I didn’t get the approval of my parents, i might not have gone ahead. She was the primary person (in my hometown) to visit the uk for her studies. once I told her I wanted to become a pilot, she encouraged me. By the time she gave her support, other relations didn’t challenge it because she was the eldest. I actually dropped the admission offer I had to review Engineering at the Yaba College of Technology in Lagos.
How did you are feeling the primary time you flew an airplane?
When one is being trained as a pilot, one is taught on the bottom and within the air. within the course of the training, it gets to some extent where the trainer feels that one is ready enough to fly an aircraft. it’s tons easier to require off than to land.
The first time I went up alone , it felt sort of a dream come true. Before one gets thereto point, there’s tons of fear because that’s when tons of individuals are dropped out of the varsity .