A few months back, Ademilola Odujinrin was reported to have embarked on his first solo trip around the world alone. He specifically made that decision so his dream can become a reality.
It was gathered that Odujinrin did not only accomplish his mission, he also made history as he became the first African man to fly solo around the world within a little time. He covered 5 continents within 9 months.
In an exclusive interview with NAIJ.com, the record breaker Ademilola Odujinrin opened up on how he almost lost his life during this great challenge, how his wife thought he was crazy, how people looked down on him and the special blessings from the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi.
However, after his return to Nigeria, Mr Odujinrin has gone to pay a special visit to the Ooni of Ife, to thank him for his support and prayers. Also, he has met with the Vice-President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.
Read his full interview below:
Q: The first time you told your wife you want to embark on this trip, what was her reaction?
ANS: At first she thought I was crazy. I don’t think she believed me maybe because she did not believe me; she did not react to it. However, as tie moved on I think it dawned on her that this guy wasn’t going to give up and by then, it was too late. She had fallen in love so much that she had to support me.
Q. Aside her, how did your family react to it as well?
ANS: do you know it’s so funny. My Dad is very liberal, so he was happy about the idea but my mother was like ‘no you can’t, do you want to go and kill yourself?’ but by the time I made her realize it was my dream and we have to have people who would believe in me. So we all have to give a part of our share.
Q: You must have made a lot of sacrifices in order for this dream to come true, what were they?
ANS: Sure I did but most of all, I think all the sacrifices I made worth seeing the Nigerian flag where it is right now. I get sick and tired of people when they speak about Nigeria the negative way. Many nations have bad eggs but I am particularly kin on making sure that when people speak of Nigeria, they speak also of the good side of Nigeria.
Q: Did you actually set out to be a pilot and what was the inspiration?
ANS: Yes from the age of 7 years old, especially between ages of 7 to 10, I have always wanted to be a pilot. My uncle as one of my biggest inspirators. I went flying with my uncle and I loved it. Also, when I used to play with kites as a kid also and I just fell in love with the dynamics of flying and all those things associated with it.
Q: Your first time flying, how will you describe the experience?
ANS: It was a beautiful experience and sight for me. I was not scared in any way. I was just 9 years old back then.
Q: How many continents were you able to cover out of the 7 and how many countries did you visit?
ANS: In all sincerity, I flew five continents out of seven. I visited 20 countries and I had 35 stops but the trip took me 9 months to finish.
Q: Of all your trips, which particular terrain scared you the most?
ANS: Hmmm! That was Hawaii to California because the aero plane was outside ever single and operational limit. So the plane was overweight. I took off middle of the night around 2am when there was no moon and no sun and it took me 14 hours above the ocean and I had not slept the previous day.
Q: Knowing all the risk involved, why did you decide to embark on the journey?
ANS: The major thing about this trip is being able to eliminate the worst scenarios. So if I took off about 2am in the morning, the chances of anything going wrong in the first three hours are very slim and the chances of anything going wrong in the last three hours are very high, so I wanted to be in daylight so if anything was going to go wrong, I could call for help. If I took at 7o’clock in the morning, and was going to land between 10 to 11pm at night and I had any problem around 8pm I would be in deeper problems and waters because it’s dark. So as I captain you are constantly reviewing based on the weather and so many factors.
Q: You have been ranked as the 115th person to have embarked on this challenge, how does that make you feel?
ANS: I am extremely elated, moreso when I heard that more people have gone to space than more people has flown around the world ‘solo’. It’s a great feeling but I think the bigger feeling is now is how I can impact a lot of lives, I think I will feel much better been able to achieve that.
Q: While you were alone in the air, did you not feel bored?
ANS: I did not because there are so many things to do. When you take a little aero plane of that size as they are half the size of your jeep, they weigh half the size. So it’s like you take something that is meant to fly for two hours and you start flying for 14 hours, you have so many things that could go wrong that you are constantly making sure that everything is right and ok and you are transferring fuels from different times So I flew in one air craft, everything one person.
Q: Going on this trip, how were you eating?
ANS: Every time I’m on air, I was no eating but when I land, the first thing I look for is a massive meal and a phone call to my wife. My wife was tracking my movements and I had a satellite was constantly making me talk to my wife.
Q: Having being a onetime pilot to the ex-governor of Cross River state, Liyel Imoke when you told him you would travel round the world, what was his reaction and how does he feel now?
ANS: I think he should be over the moon now as well as the Ooni of Ife. When the Ooni heard about my project in 2016, he said it was such an honour for him and I was under a lot of pressure because I felt like their reputation is on the line if anything had gone wrong to me. The Ooni of Ife feels excellent about it and very happy.
Q: In 2016, before you embarked on this journey you met with the Ooni of Ife in Washington DC and he prayed for you. Would you say that royal prayer also helped you along the way?
ANS: I would say the prayer helped me a whole lot 100%, no jokes. I saw one or two things and I know it worked. I was in some very difficult situations with the weather where I almost lost control of the air craft around South East Asia.
Q: At that time when you were embarking on this journey, you mentioned that people did not really come out to support/sponsor you, did you not feel distracted?
ANS: I felt disappointed, let down, it was a very low point but I had another feeling that said, a lot of people that did not support you will feel happy that you have not been able to achieve this dream because of their lack of support and that propelled me. The reason it propelled me was because I wanted them to see that if you had supported me I would have finished the program, if you did not support me I would still finish the project. However, if you show support to Nigerians and more people, there are many more things like this that you and I don’t know about and that was the real motivation.
Q: This must have cost you millions of naira/dollars, how were you able to sponsor yourself?
ANS: This was sponsored by Tolaram Group, Translynx Nigeria Limited and Air Djibouti with supports from partnerships from various companies and individuals. It gulped lots money but I would say hundreds/thousands of dollars.
Q: To those wishing to embark on trips like this, what do you have to say to them?
ANS: Keep working very hard, stay determined because the bigger we talk about, the better power we have to create this. You can have the best kid in the house but if you don’t give him the right tools to work with he won’t get the right result. This is what we need to do now, that is the next level to recreating our environment.
Q: If you have the opportunity to sit with the incumbent minister of aviation, what will you tell him?
ANS: I would discuss some very urgent and immediate concerns on why we don’t have many Nigerian kids with jobs and why we have many of Nigerian citizens outside the country. The disparity in treatment which is a very big concern is too much and something needs to be done about it.
Q: in what ways are you giving back to the society even tho they were not there when you needed them?
ANS: The first major thing is to enlighten people of what benefits there are when they give or when they assist others. A nation becomes bigger if we show support. America is where they are today because they embark on things like this. As Africans we need to explore.
Q: If any of your children decides to be like Daddy, would you give your consent?
ANS: I will support them 100%. My son told me when he was 3 years old that he wanted to go to the moon, where he got that thought from I still don’t know but I looked at my wife and told my son, I will support you because people go to the moon/space.
Q: If you were to describe your achievement in one word, what will you say?
ANS: Hmmm! SUCCESS. Mission accomplished.
Q: What is your greatest philosophy of life?
ANS: Never give up because there is always someone out there that will assist and help you.
Q: Being from Iperu-Remo in Ijebu, Ogun state, what has your Governor Ibikunle Amosun said since you arrived?
ANS: I am due to meet my governor soon.
Q: What did you set out to achieve with this journey?
ANS: We sometimes think differently in life. If you have a dream and you see it clearly in your eyes, you can never explain that dream to anybody else. So because something is crazy to you will not always be crazy to somebody else. If a lot of things were crazy to the guys that developed the mobile phones, would not have these gadgets today. This is a call to Africans that we need to start channeling our strengths somewhere because we are never going to be the same unless we assist and support each other. So while everyone thought I was weird, I felt completely normal because this whole thing was like a vision that I had so I should be penalized but to be supported in trying to realize that vision.
Q: Since you got back we are sure your phones must have been ringing, have you gotten any offer?
ANS: Yes phones have been ringing but I’m happy I got a good job but the real thing right now is making sure we can inspire and there is a legacy. We want to impact lives and want more kids to benefit from this result.
Q: If you were told to embark on another trip like this, would you go for it?
ANS: Never say Never, it depends on why we are doing it, the mission and purpose.
Q: How are people meant to believe in this project?
ANS: It is very simple, just believe and hope in whatever profession you want to achieve.
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