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Meet Five Nigerian Students Who Are Building An Airplane In Missouri, USA

Valentine Chinyem

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In a bid to create employment opportunities for young people, five students from the International College of Aeronautics in Lagos, Nigeria, are currently in Mexico, Missouri, learning how to build airplanes.

Apart from creating employment opportunities, their aim is to forge a programme that would teach aviation and maintenance skills.

Solomon Adio, the founder of the International College of Aeronautics (ICA) in Nigeria, worked in the U.S for more than thirty-five years as a pilot and maintenance engineer, before deciding to come back home and start his own flight school.

Adio, said when he returned to start rye flight school in Nigeria, he realized one critical problem: there were no airplanes.

After designing a curriculum which focuses on building aircraft, he began enrolling students in his program, Aircraft Building Engineering Technology. The program works in collaboration with Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu.

“The concept is, if you teach them how to build, they will fly what they build,” said Adio. “And once they fly what they build, then they can fix what they’ve flown.”

“We cannot continue to chase jobs that do not exist, We have to create new job opportunities,” He added.

More so, he decided to purchase an airplane kit from Zenith Aircraft Company in Mexico, Missouri for his students to build. Rather than assembling it together in Nigeria, he decided that the best learning opportunity would be for the students to travel to the U.S.

However, only students who completed the first two years of Adio’s program at the ICA, would be eligible to travel. Five students eventually made the cut, they are; David Opateyibo, Fausat Idowu, Aliyyah Adio, Michael Fakuade and Abdul-Hafeez Onisarotu.

The students would be in Mexico until September while they work at the factory to fully construct their own two-seater airplane. They will then ship the finished plane back to Nigeria and put it into use as both a training tool and a functional airplane.

Sebastien Heintz, owner and president of Zenith Aircraft Company in Mexico, said discussion with Adio about bringing students for the learning programme began several years ago. Originally only a workshop was discussed.

The workshop eventually grew into a four-month stay where the students would assemble their own plane using parts manufactured by Zenith Aircraft Company.

“I think it’s a fantastic learning opportunity for them and they’ve been doing a great job here at our factory; they decided to come out here and learn as much as they possibly can while they’re here about the tools and the skills and the processes involved in building their own airplane” Heintz said.

Further more, Heintz is expressed delight at having the students use Zenith Aircraft Company’s tools, airplane kit and physical space as their classroom and is eager to see how the partnership could continue.

“As a promoter of aviation, I love to work with folks like that because, again, I think the future of aviation will come a lot from outside the United States,” he said.

As for Solomon Adio, he said he is looking forward to providing more affordable options of aviation in Nigeria and hopefully aiding youth unemployment in the country.

“Nigeria has a population of over 180 million people, If you can just get 10 percent of them to fly, that’s 18 million people to fly airplanes. There’s a future there.”

The group has a GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/aviationstudents to raise funds for their stay in Mexico and for the cost of shipping the completed airplane back to Nigeria.

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