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According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Africa has the highest percentage of female pilots in the world, at 5.2% as of 2023. This is a remarkable increase from 4.1% in 2016, and reflects the growing interest and participation of African women in the aviation industry. One inspiring example of this trend is the Makinde sisters of Nigeria, who are all pilots following their father’s footsteps.

Nigeria is a country with many talented and ambitious women who are breaking barriers and achieving their dreams in various fields. One of these fields is aviation, which has traditionally been dominated by men. However, three Nigerian sisters have defied the odds and become pilots, following the footsteps of their father, a veteran helicopter pilot.

Oluwafunmilayo Makinde is the youngest of the three sisters. She decided to go in a different direction from her sisters and become a fixed-wing pilot. She told Alpha Bravo TV that she always admired planes and wanted to fly them. She studied at the International Aviation College in Ilorin, Nigeria, and obtained her commercial pilot license. She currently works for Air Peace, Nigeria’s largest airline.

The Makinde sisters are not only successful in their careers but also in their personal lives. They are all married and have managed to balance their work and family responsibilities. They are role models for many young girls who aspire to be pilots and break gender barriers in the aviation industry. They also show that African women are capable of leading and dominating in any field they choose.


The history of female pilots in Africa is a story of courage, perseverance and achievement. According to some sources, the first female pilot in Africa was **Melody Millicent Dankwa** from Ghana, who flew solo for the first time in 1964 in a de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk aircraft . She was honoured with the Companion of the Order of the Volta in 2006 for her groundbreaking spirit.

Since then, many other African women have followed her footsteps and pursued their dreams of flying. Some of them are:


– **Adeola Ogunmola Sowemimo** from Nigeria, who became the first Nigerian female pilot to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Qatar Airways and the Boeing 767 Aircraft across the Atlantic in 2019.

– **Aluel Bol Aluenge** from South Sudan, who became the first female pilot from her country and rose to the position of captain with Delta Air Lines in 2018 after working with Ethiopian Airlines and Fly Dubai.


– **Lieutenant Ouma Laouali** from Niger, who became the first female Nigerien pilot at the age of 28 in 2015. She was trained by the United States as part of a programme to help fight Boko Haram.

– **Irene Koki Mutungi** from Kenya, who became the first female pilot at Kenya Airways and the first African female captain of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft in 2014. She has received several awards in this male-dominated category.


– **Esther Mbabazi** from Rwanda, who became the first female Rwandese pilot in 2012 at the age of 26 and flies for RwandAir, the national airline of Rwanda. Her career choice was influenced by the tragedy of her father dying in a plane crash.

These are just some examples of the remarkable women who are breaking barriers and inspiring others in African skies. They have proven that women can excel in any field they choose, regardless of the challenges they face.


Rising Africa

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