1977 - 1984
a short "Flight Career"
My Flight Career 07.05.1977 - 18.08.1983
An Austrian working as aircraft mechanic at "AIRO CONTRACTORS" introduced me to the Lagos Flying Club where I met the Manager and Chief Instructor,
Captain Shaikh. He took me for a flight and I was hooked.
We arranged a flight training with the aim to obtain the PPL (Private Pilot Licence). This goal I achieved soon and I started flying around for my business to Kano, Kaduna, Enugu, ... In the vast country and long flights (normally 3-6 hours) I soon found out that the weather was
a challenge. Thunderstorms CB and Harmattan (fine sand in the atmosphere) where the main obstructions. Flying "IFR" on an unreliable ADF signal over long distances was hazardous.
I organised myself the training documents for the Instrument Rating from the Boardman Flight Training Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas, USA.
After studying all the theoretical stuff. I went there, passed the writen exam and started the flying part. It took me 2 weeks to finish all and I had my rating. Nevertheless once in USA I also purchased
an electrical horizon for 5N-AIU and a new set of Avionics, like VOR/ILS, DME, Transponder and a new Radio Transmitter. IFR was my future and I wanted to make it safe!
CESSNA 172 "Skyhawk"
The 1st "Texco Aircraft" 5N-AHD
Debby Gossen, a member of the Lagos Flying Club, ditched my first aircraft, a Cessna 172 Skyhawk, into the Lagos Lagoon. She borrowed the plane for a trip to Benin City and encountered bad weather,
got disorientated and finally made it into the lagoon. This came as a bit of a shock to me, since I was proud of my aircraft!
Debby was sorry but also happy to have survived the crash. Like we all! When she tried to dive for the plane in order to rescue some personal items, I shouted at her to better to stay in the kitchen! Something an emancipated girl does not like to hear!
I felt a bit sorry for her since her hurt ego was probably punishment enough!
CESSNA 206 "Stationair"
The 2nd "Texco Aircraft" 5N-AIU
The Chessna 206
was my second aircraft. She was equipped with a 300hp 6 cylinder Continental engine and a variable pitch propeller. I installed the latest flight instruments
inclusive an electrical horizon, to make sure I get through all the thunderstorms upright. I had some harrowing experiences in this field! Coming out "on top" inverted and disorientated (Vertigo)
Worse was stalling in the thunder-clouds. Getting in a spin and coming out of the cloud base disorientated was just scary!
The "Belly Pack" fitted underneath the fuselage was holding a charcoal grill, beer and other essential items for survival. All seats where equipped with
stereo headsets and a bottle opener. The only problem was the lack of a toilet which made many "emergency landings" necessary! The Cessna was a very powerful
and reliable aircraft (300hp and 3 blade variable pitch propeller) and flow her for well over 1'000 hours, mainly for business but also for trips to neighbouring
countries like Togo, Benin, Ghana and Ivory Coast.
PIPER PA-28 "Cherokee"
The rental craft from the Lagos Flying Club
The Lagos Flying Club, originally situated at the Lagos Airport and than shifted to the Magbon Airstrip, near Badagry, operated a Flying School and rented our light aircraft. One of them the Piper
Cherokee was our favourite when my one aircraft was not available due to service or other reasons. It was a change to my high wing plane and it handled quite well.
The avionic was not up to standard but we learned to fly "IFR" with only an ADF and a tumbling horizon. Vertigo
had to be overcome in order to survive a squall line!
To overcome the problem I bought in USA an electric driven artificial horizon which could not tumble! A simple weather radar was on my wish list!
PIPER PA-80 "Twin Comanche"
The aircraft from the US Flight School in Reno, Nevada.
1981 I started my Multi Engine and CPL (Commercial Pilot Licence) training with Boardman in Dallas Fort Worth (Texas) but due to bad weather in the region I drove West to Nevada. I had already my "Instrument Rating" from an earlier training.
This made the following task easier. In Reno I found a suitable training facility where I got my ratings within 8 gruelling days. The training was crazy. It was around Lake Tahoe, still cold. The instructor, an old Air Force Pilot was quit a character and
let me do stunts with the old aircraft, I will never forget.
Stalls, secondary stalls, spins, barrel rolls after take off and this while he switched off one engine or on a funny day also both.
The problem was the the engines didn't restart well so we could practise a landing on one engine at the nearest airstrip in a mountain valley. The flight area was called "Sky Ranch" the instructor the Cowboy!...
I got my rating on 18.08.82 after a test flight comprising single engine landing into the evening sun, Stall and Spin recovery and other disturbing stuff. You guess the examiner was my very own instructor!
But I made it I became a fully rated Commercial Pilot and I planned to setup a flight business in Nigeria:
Summit Aviation Ltd.
a nice but costly try!
You will probably ask me whether I did not try to do something else. Of course I did!
1983 I formed, with the than acting Minister of Civil Aviation, Alhaji Abubakar, a company named "Summit Aviation"
. I arranged a loan with First Citizen Bank
and purchased 10 Partenavia air crafts in Belgium. These where manufactured in Naples / Italy, where I made the trial flights. I even went to the USA and made my Commercial Pilot Licence. There I also hired 3 pilots for the
venture. The deal was practical completed, the company set up and ready to operate, than came a military coup and the new military ruler Babatunde Igiagbon
severely restricted Civil Aviation.
I got dragged into a military investigation on the allegation that I have flown out fugitives during the coup. Let alone the troubles with the new military regime. The loan agreement got cancelled and I had a hell of a time to get out of the contract with Partenavia.
I also ended up in deep shit since the money, already invested, was lost! At the same time I was tied up in a bitter legal and personal battle with my Nigerian partner. He used all means including JuJu
and blackmail (most probably also the "fugitive" allegations) to intimidate me
and than to offer his assistance. This all to demoralise me and to strengthen his influence. He stopped short of killing me. After all, he couldn't kill the chicken which laid the golden eggs!
Don't blame me, I tried! ...or as the Ozzies put it: "Shit Happenz!"