Ademilola Odujinrin is an experienced commercial pilot who at the end of this month will embark on a mission to fly solo around the world. If he acheives his goal he’ll join the ranks of some 114 others who’ve made the record books in this endeavour. ‘Lola’, as he’s fondly called, hopes his solo flight will inspire generations of African children. He told Focus on Africa’s Bola Mosuro that having become leaner and fitter he’s about to return to Nigeria where the historic flight, called the Transcend project will begin
Below are the excerpts of the interview.
I was quite a chubby boy actually (laughs) a lot of people will still say “you’re still chubby” but what I’ve done, I ‘ve lost 10kilos in the lass 5weeks . And I’ve been doing a lot of cardiovascular exercises mainly for endurance so I’ve been doing a lot of meditation . You know, relaxing almost like yoga and I’m using this opportunity to actually let it all sink in that I’m ready for this.
Q:And is that because the Journey you are embarking on (the adventure) is as much as physical as it is a mental adventure?
LOLA: I would think for me its going to be 65% mental and 35% physical mainly because I am one of those people that get driven from my mental side and when I told the project director for example he said I was costing him a lot of fuel with the excess weight and I said “I think I can drop 10kilos here in London” he said “ you can t lose 10kilos”
Q: Now tell us what brought you to this point , what started you on this journey that some people might think is not a mental issue (hesitates) its more of a mental problem because some people would think you might be crazy (laughs) to embark on a solo mission and wonder what drives you to go on this adventure in the first place.
LOLA: Right, I think that since the age of 7,8, 9 thereabout, I always wanted to fly around the world and you’re right. A lot of people would say to me “are you okay?”. Now if you don’t have people who go on adventures, people who explore, you and I wont have all this technology, the mobile phone, communication, etc. And I feel its about time the African kids especially start to view ourselves in the light of “Yes! We’re explorers too” we need to start sending people into space . We can do it too and taking new challenges absolutely , that’s what its all about . The biggest challenge is changing the average African mindset of “you’re a black guy you cant do this so that was a barrier in itself because like we mentioned a lot of people thought I was crazy . So I had to overcome that barrier and say to people “Guys I know what I’m doing, I’ve got a wife and two lovely kids but we can do this”.
Q: so you had a dream when you were 27. Now at 37, you’ve got the proper financial backing; you have a marketing team behind you. Tell us where this journey is going to take you from . From where to where are you going to fly?
LOLA: the plan is, its never been done in African before. Hence, why we chose to do it in Africa. We start in Lagos Nigeria and the first stop would be in Cameroon and the next stop would be in Kenya Nairobi and then we go to Djibouti and then we fly up to UAE Thailand, Malaysia into Australia. From Australia, I start island hopping, Pago Pago, Port Vila, the Pacific Island, Kiribati, Hawaii, and then when I get to Hawaii, I’m not going to have a holiday but I will be having a holiday and a holiday will be literally. This is where the big deal is actually. This aircraft can fly for 17 hrs nonstop so we’ve upgraded the tanks in it from a 5hr Aircraft to a 17hr aircraft and the average time for the Hawaii leg to san Diego is 14 hrs.
Watch the full interview here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03qw855