Contrary to recent reports that Favour Odozor, 20, who graduated at the Afrika Union Aviation Academy, South Africa, is the youngest Nigerian licensed commercial pilot, investigations and records from the Nigerian Civil Aviation School reveal that this achievement belongs to Sam Phil-Ebosie (1951 – 2012), who graduated as a licensed commercial pilot at the age of 19 in 1970.
Sam was born to Emman Phil-Ebosie and Yewande Phil-Ebosie on the 271h July, 1951, in Lagos and was the third of four brothers. His father was the foremost indigenous ENT Surgeon in Nigeria. Sam attended Ladi-Lak Institute and later transferred to Government Demonstration School, Surulere, Lagos, for his primary education. He then proceeded to Kings College, Lagos, for his secondary education; after which he shocked his family, teachers and mates by his decision to become a Civil Aviator. For this, he sought and was admitted into the second course at the Nigerian Civil Aviation School Zaria, graduating top of his class as a pilot in 1970.
He thereafter commenced his commercial flying career with the then Nigerian Airways Ltd. Through his career, he was trained on the Fokker 27, Fokker 28, Boeing 737, Boeing 707 and DC 10. While at Nigeria Airways, he was confirmed the youngest Fokker F 27 Captain at the age of 25 years in 1977. The height of his professional flying career was when, as the youngest ever captain in the world, he flew the wide bodied aircraft at the age of 30 years in 1981.
During his career, he was the preferred long haul Captain for the Presidency on the Presidential Fleet. He flew the then President Shehu Shagari to the Hajj in Saudi Arabia, Australia for the Common Wealth Conference in 1981, New York to the United Nation’s Conference and several other destinations; and the Vice President Alex Ekweme also on several occasions.
Sam later retired from Nigeria Airways in 1985, after which he joined Saudi Airlines, Saudi Arabia in 1985 where he worked as a Lockheed Tri-Star Ll 011 Captain. Between 1986 and 1995, he worked at PH Aviation Teterboro, New Jersey, UPS, New York and Federal Express Memphis. Sam retired from commercial flying after 27 years in 1995. Upon retirement he set up his own private aviation support company called Skynote.
Sam, until his death, remained a keen aviator, consulting in different areas of the aviation sector.
Nigerians and our palava. Why wasn’t the records verified before announcing him as the youngest commercial pilot Nigeria has ever produced? How would this young man feel now. This is a lesson for all. Let;s learn how to do things the right way.