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Captain Chinyere Onyenaucheya – Nigeria’s First Female Pilot

Captain Chinyere Onyenaucheya – Nigeria’s First Female Pilot

When it comes to career choices that a woman can consider, there are a lot of limiting factors. One thing for sure is that the society was built on gender roles that allow Men to dream and achieve the impossible in technology, medicine, and business, while Women are expected to build the home, make it comfortable for men and children, and take up nursing and teaching roles that are relatively not as time consuming as career choices for other industries.

However, it is noteworthy to realize that times have changed, and a lot of women have gone ahead to be trailblazers, piercing through and shattering the very thick glass ceiling. Truly, there has never been a time like the 21st century. Women can no longer be mediocre who have no choice but to live in the shadow of the men in their lives, except by choice.

Today, we celebrate a woman of courage, ingenuity and vision. A woman, who against all odds, paved the path for other women and girls to follow. This is our very own Captain Chinyere Kalu, the first female commercial pilot in Nigeria, who is applauded to have flown and landed one of the state-of-the-art aircrafts the TBM-850 amongst others.

Her career choice simply gives permission to every Nigerian woman who fears taking up space in the career of their dreams, because it’s male dominated.

Captain Chinyere was raised by her single mother, another sign that the male figure is not solely responsible for creating inspirational children. Chinyere attended Anglican girls grammar school, Yaba, Lagos. Thereafter, she joined the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Zaria in the year 1978. She then decided to go further by taking several aviation courses in the US and the UK, after which she received her licence as a commercial pilot on the 20th of may 1981 from the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology.  A feet that was otherwise unimaginable for women at that time.

Due to her continued outstanding nature and exceptional achievement, Captain Chinyere is a member of the Nigerian Women Achievers hall of fame and was conferred the honour of becoming a Member of the Order of The Federal Republic (MFR) in 2006. Her other awards include the African International Achievers Merit Awards 2007; the Rare Gems Professional Achievers Award 2007; and Nigeria’s 50 Greatest Women of Democratic Administration of Ghana 2012. She was leading the flying school department of the Nigerian College Of Aviation when she was proclaimed the Chief Executive and Rector of the same institution by former President Goodluck Jonathan, where she served diligently from October 2011 to February 2014.

She’s married to Mr Okoli-Kalu and they are blessed with children.

There are no more barriers. There is no more excuse. Gender roles are changing, and every time a woman moves against the odds to pursue the career of her dreams, she gives other women permission to do the same, and gradually we are building the right future.

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