Recently, Nigerian airline, Air Peace raised one of its pilots, Sinmisola Ajibola, to the rank of flight Captain. The promotion made her the airline’s first female captain as she’s is from a family of pilots – father and four brothers, three of whom are with Air Peace.
The female pilot shared her story with Air Peace crew after the historic decoration.
CC: How do you feel becoming a captain?
CS: I’m very excited for this day, it’s a day every pilot looks forward to. I’m really excited and elated to experience this day.
CC: I can say you are from the home of pilots – your father, four brothers and now, you. What really is the interest here?
CS: (Hesitates) I remember growing up, I used to wear my dad’s hats and jackets, which used to be oversize for me, and say, “Oh I want to fly, oh I want to fly.” Then he just used to laugh and say: “Oh when you finish school (university) and you get your degree, then tell me again if this is still what you want.” Then, along the line, I would tag along on flights with him. Then my other brothers started the same thing: “We want to fly, we want to fly.” So, my dad made a joke that if he were into some other business, was that how we would all want to tag and follow him? But, all in all, I think basically, he contributed hugely to us being here today. We watched him, we admired him, he was a very good example for us. It was not hard, we did not have to think about it to want to follow his footsteps. It was not a hard decision. We are happy we did, we are glad.
CC: A lot of people are scared of flying, let alone talking of being in charge of the cockpit? So, what scares you about the job?
CS: Scares (pauses)… I think the more you fly, even if you have thousands of hours, there are times you will have fears in the cockpit, maybe weather or something, but that is where the training comes in. We go through rigorous training from time to time and all that, and that makes you more comfortable to handle any situation. And going forward, it is still mostly the same thing I have been doing, you know, only that it is more responsibility – I am looking after everybody at once. But I do not really think I have or I should have any particular fears about flying.
CC: Men especially are not comfortable having women in the cockpit. Is that justified?
CS: (Chuckles) It’s funny, because there are times we are boarding and the men will see me in the cockpit and they will behave like: “Is it a female flying us? Are we safe? Are we safe? And we laugh about it, because it is 2018 and we expect people to be conversant with having females in their cockpits. But I guess we will give them a little more time to understand that what the men can do, we equally can do.
CC: Let’s go controversial here now. Between men and women (pilots and captains), who do the job better?
CS: I would not want to go controversial to that extent. I think we (men and women pilots) equally do you job. There was a time years ago when they said women were more patient; they think better in handling things. But in this profession, I think the training and a lot of factors come into play. It is not all about gender most times.
CC: What should we expect now that you have been elevated?
CS: At the end of the day, it’s wisdom and hopefully, I get better really. I strive to be a better person. So it’s just to understand the profession and my career, and just work with what I have. I am glad to have supportive colleagues, a supportive chairman and our captains, training captains, so it does not seem like it will be a difficult road to walk. Inasmuch as there will be challenges, definitely we will overcome those challenges.