Three remarkable Nigerian sisters are being celebrated for achieving groundbreaking success as pilots with various airlines and helicopter companies.
In a predominantly male-dominated field, they have not only shattered stereotypes but also become a symbol of hope, resilience, and the “I-can-do-it” spirit for aspiring female pilots across Nigeria.
Oluwafunmilayo, Oluwaseun, and Mopelola Makinde followed in their father’s footsteps, who himself is a seasoned helicopter pilot, to pursue their dreams of becoming pilots.
Born and raised in Nigeria, these three sisters have soared to incredible heights in their careers, defying expectations and inspiring others along the way. Their journey into the world of aviation was heavily influenced by their father, Captain Wale Makinde, whose unwavering zeal and commitment to his profession inspired them from an early age. His stories of flying helicopters to remote and challenging locations fascinated Mopelola, the eldest sister, igniting her passion for aviation. Observing her father’s dedication, she recognized that gender should never be a barrier to pursuing one’s dreams.
Mopelola embarked on a determined path to become a helicopter pilot, supported wholeheartedly by her family. Overcoming various obstacles, she obtained her pilot’s license and now serves proudly as an experienced and skilled helicopter pilot. Her journey has shattered stereotypes and motivated numerous young women to consider aviation as a viable and fulfilling career option.
Oluwaseun, the middle sister, was equally captivated by her father’s profession. Listening to the tales of courage and precision required in piloting helicopters, she was resolute in charting her own course in the skies. Despite societal pressures and skepticism about women’s capabilities in such a demanding field, Oluwaseun remained undeterred. With her family’s unwavering support and her father’s mentorship, she excelled in her training and earned her wings as a helicopter pilot, breaking barriers with every flight. Her journey serves as a role model not just for young girls in Nigeria but for aspiring female pilots worldwide.
The youngest sister, Oluwafunmilayo, also embraced the aviation industry while taking a different route from her sisters. Instead of helicopters, she pursued a career as a fixed-wing pilot, displaying the same ambition and enthusiasm. Her decision added diversity to the family’s aviation accomplishments, highlighting that there are numerous paths to success in the aviation world, each deserving equal recognition and respect.
Although the profession of aviation poses various challenges, and historically, there have been few women in the field, these sisters have continued to demonstrate their excellence. One of the challenges is the high cost of pilot training and recurrent training, as well as regulations surrounding pregnancy that can impact female pilots’ careers. To address the gender gap in the profession, experts advocate for educating females and their parents to dispel the notion that aviation is exclusively for men.
Moses Oyesanya, a professor of Mathematics at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), emphasizes the importance of exposing females to the aviation sector from a young age to encourage their participation and change societal perceptions.
Overall, the inspiring journey of these three sisters serves as a beacon of hope and determination, paving the way for a more inclusive and diverse aviation industry in Nigeria.