Arabella Star Magazine engages in a riveting interview with Captain Rotimi Adeoye, a distinguished pilot boasting a career with Ethiopian Airlines.
Steeped in aviation legacy as the son of a renowned airline captain, Captain Adeoye’s journey unfolds as a tale of childhood dreams evolving into a lifelong passion for the skies.
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The interview unveils the intricate steps he took to realize his aviation aspirations, from meticulous medical checks to navigating the financial challenges of flight school.
Captain Adeoye candidly shares insights into the rigorous training and safety measures pilots undergo, emphasizing the continuous commitment to excellence.
The interview explores the captain’s role in ensuring flight safety, delves into cockpit dynamics, and offers a glimpse into the delicate balance between a demanding aviation career and personal life.
It was Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra who aptly said “Pilots are a rare kind of human. They leave the ordinary surface of the world, to purify their soul in the sky, and they come down to earth, only after receiving the communion of the infinite.” Can you tell us about your journey as a pilot?
Thank you very much for using your platform positively, just as you have inspired many in the past, I hope my input will have the same impact.
I am Captain Rotimi Adeoye, and I’m happy to grant this interview if at all just to inspire a few. This is something that has always been a goal of mine.
Well, your opening remarks by Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra are quite the entry, now what can I possibly say to beat that? I think I need to come up with a quote myself that will forever be associated with Capt. Rotimi Adeoye. I think this will be my next assignment subconsciously.
My journey began some 33 years ago. Born to my late father, Captain Johnson Adeoye, who was also an airline captain for Nigeria Airways and Bellview Airlines, and my lovely mother, Mrs. Eunice Adeoye. Do I need to continue?
Well, as many say to me, it’s in the blood! I can tell you for certain, that’s absolutely the best way to put it. I say this because I didn’t grow up always wanting to be a Pilot! I actually grew up wanting to be whatever my older siblings wanted to be.
It all started with me wanting to be a millionaire because at that age, I thought being a millionaire was a job where people just made millions. As I grew older, the goal kept changing. From becoming an astronaut to a neurosurgeon like Ben Carson, to a Lawyer, and finally, to a Doctor, yep!! You heard me, a medical Doctor!!
To be honest, my story in detail might fill up this magazine, so, I would try to keep it short!
I realized later as I grew older that my passion was for more practical things, as opposed to the mystery of Biology and Chemistry and the likes, I wasn’t happy to see people bleed, in pain, or suffer, hence, I was just deceiving myself saying I wanted to be a doctor.
Although, as a kid, my peers usually called me Captain, because, they all looked up to my dad’s profession, however, being the son of the man, I never really thought about it like that, I’m guessing that was due to the fact that it was already in my blood.
During those formative years, I didn’t need to know what aircraft it was that was just airborne and flying overhead our home, just by hearing the noise of the engines, I knew that’s a Bac One-Eleven, or that’s a Boeing 727, or a Fokker 100, etc.
Hence, I later realized, flying was something I needed to pursue. I remember as a teenager, the first book I recall reading on my own merit was one called a Pilot’s Guide to an Airline Career, something I picked from my dad’s library, that fascination, sealed my fate. The rest is history.
What motivated you to pursue a career in aviation, and what steps did you take to achieve your goal of becoming a pilot?
My motivation was definitely my passion. After realizing being a Doctor was not supposed to be for me due to my distaste for seeing people suffer or seeing blood, and my uninterest in biology, chemistry, things like that. I realized that I needed to go with something more natural to me. Something that I felt comfortable doing, you know, aviation was something I never considered, maybe because my father was a pilot and my aviation knowledge came naturally because I learned from him. But then I realized that this was not just because my dad was a pilot. It was more like an unknown passion, I had to just look within myself. It finally dawned on me like, wait a minute, this is what I was supposed to be doing. So yeah, I just followed my dreams, based on the passion that I naturally had for flying. And that was it. You know, and that’s why, my advice is, of course, when it comes to staying motivated, It’s literally just following your passion. If you follow your passion, you will definitely stay motivated because this is what you love to do.
As for the steps that I took, I mean, first of all, I had to make sure that I was healthy. You know, I did all the required medical checks to enable me to hold a class one medical certificate to become a pilot. This is very important because a lot of people dream to be pilots, but then they realize that they’re not certified medically fit enough. Either because they don’t have good eyes or some other natural reasons restrict them from holding a proper pilot’s license to fly in commercial aviation. So that’s very essential. Therefore, the first step I took was to ensure that I was medically fit and sound by doing an appropriate aeromedical test. Furthermore, I ensured that I was financially capable. This is very important, because aviation is very expensive. So, one has to ensure that they have the necessary funding, either via family sponsorship like in my case or if lucky an airline cadet program which has become more rare these days. Nevertheless, one has to ensure that they are medically sound and financially ready for the costly flight school training and things like that. So finances is very important. Moreover, I ensured I did my own research for the right school for my flight training. This is important to ensure that all requirements have been met. Luckily though, a lot of things that you’d be learning in flight school are completely different from what you learn in high school, so rest assured, once you get your admission, the learning begins. Those are the key steps I took as per your question.
Kindly share with Arabella Star some insights into the rigorous training and safety measures that pilots go through in the lines of your duties?
Well, I mean, like you have said, rigorous training and safety measures. it’s quite a simple way to depict the reality. I mean can you just imagine going into a school where you will never graduate from? That is how intense it can actually be and this is literally what it takes to become a Pilot. Which is why it is key to actually love and be passionate about this, otherwise, it is going to be frustrating for you. You know, being a pilot, the kind of training required can be quite intense, for example, every six months of your career as a pilot, you’ll need to justify your competencies to keep that role. So as a Pilot, every six months you have flight simulator training and checks whereby you have to justify that you are competent enough to command that plane. This entails numerous emergency situations that you hope not to encounter in real life but be ready to manage the situation appropriately should they occur. And this is something that is not spoken about enough. In Addition, outside of the simulator trainings and checks that you do every six months for life or until retirement, there are also your physiological factors, which sometimes can play a role in ending one’s career early.
For example, someone has an accident, and that’s it. You might lose your license for life. That’s it, your job is gone. You cannot fly again. Or you have some medical issues that just restricts your license. One has to realize that these medical tests occur annually if below the age of 40 or biannually if above the age of 40 and these tests also determine your eligibility to remaining a Commercial Pilot or not, just like the bi annual simulator tests, so that alone is just something that cut short a few pilots career that I know about, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are other computer-based trainings and practical trainings in numerous forms, that one has to continually go through such as route trainings, that could encompass several aspects like depressurization escape route trainings in certain regions, for example, operating over the Himalayas, or the Alps etc, likewise, low visibility procedures, carrying dangerous goods training, North Atlantic operations, I could continue naming them but there are so many trainings that international pilots continue to go through for life and this is the picture of what it entails to keep a pilot’s license. I don’t know of many jobs out there in this world whereby you only have 6 months or less to enjoy exam free, medical free and assessment free before writing another exam or another medical test to allow you keep earning for another 6 months and the cycle never stops, no final exam or tests, you know, so this is why aviation is very safe, because of the level of training required to maintain competency.
As a Captain, you have a significant responsibility for the safety of passengers and crew. Can you describe some of the key responsibilities and challenges that come with this role?
Yes, of course. Obviously, I describe the role of the captain, as the manager of CRM. That’s Crew Resource Management, in a nutshell, everything that encompasses the safety of the flight, from before the flight begins to the end of the flight which is not necessarily restricted to just the flight crew and cabin crew. This is also inclusive of the non-flight crew meaning the flight dispatchers, maintenance personnel, drivers, etc. literally anything or everything that could affect the flight is something that has to be put into consideration. But if I have to break down some of the responsibilities, I mean, I’ll just simply say the role of every single crew member, but most especially the Captain is obviously to conduct a safe, efficient, and secure environment for all the passengers, crew members, mail, cargo and of course to ensure that the aircraft is airworthy and that there’s cooperation between every team member, the cabin crew, the flight dispatchers, the maintenance personnel, and supervision and delegation of responsibilities as required. Ensuring that you are sound and up to date with the policy and standard operating procedures of your airline. An example will be transportation of dangerous goods and ensuring that these goods have been packaged and loaded appropriately. There are so many laws required to be followed, you know, familiarization with all the necessary records of even the people you’re flying with, your colleagues, trainees, the regulations of the country you are flying to, regulation of the airport being flown to, checking to ensure that everything is safe and setting an example to ensure that all crew members are following the standards as depicted by the airlines policy manual. So yeah, it can be overwhelming for someone who wants to become a Pilot for the perceived glamour and travel. I really don’t know how to like describe it, but I’ll just say the management of CRM, which is essential and part of the essential roles and responsibilities that the captain has.
In the aviation industry, teamwork and effective communication are crucial. Can you share an example of a challenging situation in the cockpit and how you and your crew effectively resolved it in the air?
Well, I mean like I just previously described above about how essential it is to be able to manage every single situation and ensure that the passengers, crew, cargo, and all other aspects of flight are safe.
Yes, definitely, teamwork and effective communication are paramount to the safety of any operation. That’s why every single person involved in the operation of an aircraft is essential to the safety of that plane and making everyone feel like they can speak up and can give feedback. You know, it’s something that is very important because if you fly with people that don’t feel welcome, they might not feel like their feedback is essential or needed, that sometimes they might leave out information that might be essential to the flight. So, you have to ensure that everybody feels part of the team. You know, in my 15 years of flying, I really cannot recall many challenging situations outside of the regular scenarios that most crew members go through. Because of course, like I described, we go through all the types of training. It’s not just pilots, even the flight attendants, they go through lots of rigorous trainings and exams. And this is essential to ensure that when any of these challenges come, we are highly trained to be able to withstand these challenges. Of course, coordination and communication, like the use of checklists, the practice and management of multiple scenarios help us manage our flights accordingly. I wouldn’t say I’ve ever really had a situation that I will describe as challenging, you know, to the point that we couldn’t manage the situation.
Balancing a career in aviation with personal life can be challenging due to irregular schedules and time away from home. How do you manage to maintain a healthy work-life balance and nurture personal relationships while pursuing a career as a pilot?
Well, of course, I think a healthy work-life balance cannot be stressed enough. It is paramount for those of us on the move, to actually enjoy the lifestyle that we choose to pursue, which is of course the travel lifestyle, the flying lifestyle, and nurturing personal relationships is important.
Nevertheless, having people around you who understand the entire details of the job, as well as spending quality time with your loved ones is essential to keeping a healthy work-life balance. In my case, I think I actually have more quality and possibly quantity time with my loved ones as opposed to those who have a normal nine to five. I say this because I mean, in 30 days, if I fly 15 days, it means that at least 15 days of those 30 days are actually free and that’s time you can actually spend with family.
And if I had a nine-to-five, then I may have maybe an hour to three hours every day Monday to Friday with the exception of the weekends, but as a pilot, I might have 10 full days or more off, some even have 15 to 20 days off in a month. I think it’s not as bad depending on where you’re working and what type of flight operations you are involved in. I think it’s something that definitely can be managed.
And also, there is a very interesting theory that the more time you spend away from your loved ones, the more there is to talk about when you get back together, you know, so you give them the opportunity to miss you and you miss them, therefore, a little bit of space sometimes is good. You know, for relationships, I mean, not too much space, of course, but if someone goes away and comes back. I mean, I think that helps enhance a healthy relationship, during the reunion there will be a lot to talk about. When you know you were away and things like that. So yeah, I think for me, it works perfectly. And I think it’s just something that the people around you, your loved ones have to understand what it entails so that they’re not overwhelmed by your absence or presence when you are home for many consecutive days.
You have excelled in your field of career as a pilot, what would you say are your proudest achievements?
Well, first of all, thank you very much for actually saying that I’ve achieved a lot.
I think, of course, my story has just begun, even if it’s been 15 years now, but the journey, is still literally at the early stage for me. But I’m obviously proud that the grace of God that surpasses all understanding has been kind to me that I’ve been able to achieve what I’ve been able to achieve in a very short career thus far. I like to describe it as exploits exceeding efforts!! But my proudest achievement so far would be the fact that I got my Masters degree and this was something that I had to do whilst I was working. I had to still find time to go to classes in the UK and get my exams done and get my master’s in air transport management. The fact that I was actually fulfilling a promise that I made to my dad before he passed that I will go back to school made the completion more fulfilling and for me to achieve that, it was something that I really say is one of my proudest achievements in my career so far. Another one is of course when I left my beautiful first love the Boeing 737 and I went to the Airbus’ best aircraft the Airbus A350. And having to have achieved that at an early stage of my career as a captain is something that I will forever be grateful to God for. Another thing that I just completely forgot was the fact that when I made captain, I was just a few weeks into my 25th birthday so I think that’s another one that I completely forgot. So yeah, I was pretty young when i became a captain, although I was still 24 when I started my captainship training, however, I jokingly wished I finished my training when I was 24 years old, so yes, at 25 year old, becoming a captain was a good achievement. And then of course being a captain on the A350 when I was just approaching 30 was also an amazing achievement. So yeah, these I would say are the milestones in my career so far.
Africa, especially Nigeria will experience great growth and development if we get it right on time. What would you advise the youths who aspire to be like you?
Wow. You know, I would like to see myself as someone who’s passionate about helping people achieve their dreams, and how I can motivate a few to be able to achieve their dreams.
When I was younger, myself and my colleagues in high school after playing football on the soccer field met a mystery man who walked by the field, I can’t remember his name nor do I know where he is now. But he said something to us back then, He said Listen, guys, if your life does not affect other people’s lives positively, in some way, you are not achieving your destiny. That statement has always resonated with me significantly, I said, well think about it. So if I’m a cobbler, and I make shoes, there’s a way that I could be a cobbler and still affect people’s lives positively. I was like, you know what, if I can follow my dreams and passion, I can actually impact people’s lives positively, people can say you know what, How did you do this? How did you do that? So this is something that I always felt like, okay, if I’m able to do this, and I’m able to inspire the next generation coming up. I mean, that will be amazing. For me, all I say is follow your passion. what are you passionate about? It’s very, very important. It’s all about passion because I’d say a lot of people these days just want to follow where the easiest money is. They just want to make money.
And sometimes it’s not all about money. Because some people make money, but they’re not happy because they’re not doing what they want to be doing. So, there are ways you can actually follow your passion and money will come. So, follow your passion, stay motivated and stay educated, stay healthy, as much as you can, stay disciplined, and continue to believe and all things being equal, you’ll be able to achieve your dreams. You know, I know it’s very cliche, a lot of things that I’ve said, to be honest, read, educate yourself, it is very important. Read books, and learn from other people’s stories as well.
Like I said, follow your passion. What are you good at? This is very important. So yeah, that’s my advice.