ASKY Airline Senior First Officer, Adetayo Babatunde is the complete package – he is intelligent, with a well-groomed beard, and a great personality. Travelling the world for a living in the company of sexy air hostesses, no doubt this unassuming young pilot is living the dream life of a cockpit rock star. Adetayo, a University of Lagos, UNILAG alumnus flaunts a type rating on the Bombardier Dash 8Q400 and Boeing 737-700/800NG. He is currently on the B737-700/800NG. After graduating in flying colours with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics, the handsome pilot moved on to South Africa where he obtained his pilot license in 2012. Adetayo’s flying career started officially in 2013 and it has been onwards and upwards from there. Abuja Standard Publisher, SEYI ONIFADE recently had the opportunity to have an interesting chat with the ASKY Airline pilot to ask him few questions about his glamorous job, hobbies outside of work and a bit of fashion. Enjoy the excerpts.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your educational background?
Well, I did my Primary, Secondary and University in Lagos. I finished from Airforce Secondary School, Ikeja. And I graduated from the University of Lagos with Bachelors in Physics before traveling to South Africa to obtain my pilot license.
What inspired you to pursue this career? Any parental influence or do you have anyone in the family with a background in aviation?
Errm, my dad actually retired from Aero Contractors so I guess right from a young age I was exposed to seeing planes because I remember when we got picked from school then, we always had to go to his office to wait for him, and I remember always looking through the window seeing planes land and taking off, so I guess that somewhat influenced me a lot.
What challenges have faced along the way to fulfilling your dream of becoming a pilot?
I think one of the major challenges of fulfilling my dream was actually staying focused and true to my dream and making my family realizes that I was passionate about my dream enough that they could invest so much money in it.
Where did you get your airline pilot license from and how long have you been flying now?
I got my Private and Commercial Pilot License in South Africa, in 2012 but I didn’t start flying with an airline until 2013. So, technically I have been flying for about 6 years now.
Can you share with our readers your experience the first time you flew an aircraft?
Honestly it was mixed feelings – a sense of accomplishment and also that of responsibility. It’s a feeling that I couldn’t let my family down, knowing all the sacrifices made. Although, the turbulence flying the light aircraft made me tremble a little (laughs) but sincerely it’s a feeling that I’ll relish for now and years to come
A lot of people feel nervous about flying because of plane crashes. As a commercial pilot, have you had any scary moments?
Well, Yes. I’ve actually had a couple, but one moment actually stood out from the other moments when I was flying over Douala. But in retrospect, the truth is, when a pilot is in a situation, at that moment we are actually very occupied trying to get out of the situation, so you really don’t even think of the fear at that moment.. The fear actually starts to kick in after you’ve been able to handle and gotten yourself out of the situation then you start to think ‘oh, what if this or that had happened’. But it’s proven that air travel is still by far the safest way to travel.
Should passengers be worried during turbulence?
Well, I’ll advice that they keep their seat-belts on whenever the fasten belt signs come on and the crew tells them to. The signs come on for a reason (laughs)
What’s your biggest annoyance when it comes to troublesome passengers?
(Laughs) We had a lot of troublesome passengers in my previous company, but pilots don’t really interface with the passengers, it’s more of the cabin crews who do. But there was a time I was operating a flight, we had an unruly passenger who was harassing the female cabin crew, she called us as we were taxing out, and we figured the passenger could be a treat to the flight, so we taxied back to the stand, informed security and they disembarked the passenger.
Which airports are your favourite, and which do you hate?
I love flying into Dakar, Banjul, Monrovia, and Johannesburg. Just to mention a few. The winds sometimes pick up, making the approach and landing different, I like to hand fly a lot, so that keeps the adrenaline rushing for me.
I hate flying into Kinshasa and Brazzaville airports. The weather and traffic controlling there is terrible.
Can you tell us beside the essentials, what do you always take with you in the cockpit?
My iPad, mints, hand sanitizer, and a little pocket Bible
What’s your assessment of the aviation industry in Nigeria?
Inconsistency. That’s my major worry about the Nigerian Aviation. Just too inconsistent but I do believe it has potentials though.
What’s your favourite destination and why?
Er mm, I don’t exactly have a favourite anymore. I guess maybe because I’ve flown to them too many times. But I’m looking forward to flying some new routes
You have one of the world’s most glamorous jobs and you’re also a good looking man, how do you cope with your female admirers?
(Smiles) It’s sure glamorous, but behind the ‘glitz and glam’, there is life outside of that uniform. So I try not to get carried away
What advice would you give to young people who are interested in becoming pilots?
Stay focused, passionate and consistent to your dream. Without commitment you’ll never start, but more importantly without consistency you’ll never finish.
Let’s talk a bit about fashion. What’s your taste in fashion and how would you describe your style?
I believe strongly in the statement that says… ‘You may never get a second chance to create a first impression’. So as much as possible, I like to look admirable, approachable, fashionable but yet simple. I love wrist watches a lot, it’s one of the few things I don’t look at the price tag, I like it, and I buy it (laughs). My style I’ll say Jeans, a well ironed shirt with belt and shoes to match. I also like to accessorize a lot.
Any favourite fashion accessories you can’t do without?
Wrist and Neck chain
A lot of people believe your job is very lucrative, how would you respond to that?
Definition of lucrative is relative. But I’ll say with the job, it places you in some aspects ahead of your peers.
Which airline do you currently work for?
Tell us what’s your most memorable moment as a pilot?
I actually have a lot, a whole lot, from flying family members to former presidents, to friends and watching the amazing view of the sun rising and setting in the distant horizon. It is just amazing. And I feel indeed blessed.
Which aircraft do you mostly fly?
I have a type rating on the Bombardier Dash 8Q400 and the Boeing 737-700/800NG but I am currently on the B737-700/800NG.
How do you deal with jet lag?
Er mm I actually just try to sleep it off
Finally, where’s your mind at for the future?
Well, in as much as the future sounds far it’s actually near. I think the joy of fatherhood is one thing I cherish soon, to grow with my kids and also retire relatively early, to get to the point where your money is working for you, and don’t have to be doing 4 landings everyday to get paid, (laughs) to be in good health and in the company of family. To look back on where I came from, and where I want to be through God’s guidance and divine wisdom.