The Day I Cried in Flying School
Category : General
The Day I Cried in Flying School
By Ofonime Essien
For those of you that have been following my blog, you already know How I Became a Helicopter Pilot and what I went through to achieve it. Towards the end of the course, an incident happened that made me cry.
The incident happened on 10th July, 2014, as we were preparing for Commercial Pilot License (CPL) / Instrument Rating Check Rides. To do a check ride, you must meet certain flying hours criteria. The Head of Training, International Helicopter Flying School (IHFS), sent for me that fateful morning and informed me that I needed 16 extra hours to be able to do the check rides and that I have to pay for the hours if I want to finish the course. An extra US $9,360 (N1,544,400.00) after what I went through to pay the initial training fees of US $97,700.00 (N16,132,000). The school uses Robinson 66 Turbine Helicopters for its training and was priced at US $585 (N96,525.00) per hour. He said “Oga, Essien, you will pay now”. I tried to argue that there is no way I needed that number of hours and that if the school insist on me raising the extra money, that means they don’t want me to graduate. He asked me to wait for him at the school’s reception while he attended to other students.
Read more: Flying Without Arms
Waiting For Head of Training
While I waited, a lot of thoughts ran through my mind. I started wondering if I had made a mistake by coming for the course. I also imagined the kind of investment I would have made with US $97,700.00 (N16,132,050.00) and the returns on investments I would have had in 2 years. I felt I had wasted 2 years of my life without getting what I went for. I wondered where and how I was going to raise US $9,360 (N1,544,400.00) in less than 2 weeks to finish the course. The last thing on my mind was to incur another debt. I wasn’t ready to owe the school even if that seemed the only solution. The only source of income I had was the little tri-cycle business that had stopped bringing money due to mismanagement. My employer, Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) stopped paying my salary for the duration of the course. They approved study leave without pay for me because I wasn’t a child of a top management staff. And I asked the question of questions. “God, why have you brought me this far and abandoned me?” With that, tears welled up in my eyes. The Head of Training / My Flight Instructor came at that moment. Tears was streaming down my face and I was crying uncontrollably. He was shocked to see me cry. He said “Oga Essien, it hasn’t gotten to this”. He also added, “Don’t worry, we will resolve it”. He asked me to go to the quarters and rest. I went to the quarters, locked myself up in my room and cried for a while. I felt helpless. I knelt down in my room, prayed and hand over the situation to Almighty God. I told Him I have done my best, that I’m leaving the rest to Him. I informed my family about the development, they all prayed for me. God bless my mother, sisters and family members. They were all there for me throughout the trying period.
Travelling for Medical Renewal
I travelled to Lagos, Nigeria the following day, 11th July, 2014, to renew my Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Class 1 medical. I spoke with the Head of Training later that evening to inform him that I had arrived Lagos safely and that I will be doing my medical the following day, 12th July, 2014. I received a text message from him the following morning that I have to return to Enugu, Nigeria after my medical same day. I met the Head of Training as soon as I arrived Enugu that evening at the flight line since he was preparing for a night flight. He asked me to join other students in the Operations Room to compile my hours using the Aircraft Hobb Records. In my earlier article, “Pilot’s Most Prized Asset: Logbook”, I mentioned using the Aircraft Hobb records as one of the ways of building lost hours. I was in school till 3:00am compiling hours. At the end of the day, we discovered I needed 3 hours and not 16 hours. The 3 hours was used to prepare me for the check rides. I was maintaining an electronic logbook using Microsoft Excel sheet and had made that costly mistake. The school was working on the record I gave them. The problem was indeed resolved as the Head of Training told me. God bless him.
Sometimes in life, we made some costly mistakes that make us cry and begin to ask God ‘why’. Sometimes, the situations are no fault of ours. Some situations make some people even doubt the existence of God or to be angry with Him. I realized one thing when the issue arose, that the problem was not actually the problem but my attitude towards the problem. I maintained a positive attitude. I told myself I won’t leave Enugu, Nigeria without my Commercial Pilot License (CPL). I prayed and trusted God to handle the situation. God was my partner in my flight training. He gave the vision and I followed it passionately. He cleared all the obstacles that came along the way. There is nothing as fulfilling as obeying the voice of God. There is nothing as good as allowing God direct your paths. When you involve God in your affairs, He makes all things possible. He will make a way where there seemed to be no way.
Are you going through difficulties? Have you had situations that make you cry or that you feel is hopeless? Have you had cause to ask the question: “God, why?” No matter what you are going through, no situation is hopeless with God. Involve God in all you do. Make Him your partner, He will make ways for you. He will lighten your burdens.
It is hard to face challenges. Many people try to avoid challenges and setbacks, but it is better to face challenges than to run away from them, because no matter how much you avoid them, they will strike you back. There is no way you can avoid all challenges in life, so why not face them now?
Facing setbacks and adversities is a character- and leadership-building experience that all leaders – in fact, all humans – go through. Each time you have to deal with difficulties, you gain new knowledge and new skills, personal as well as professional. Being tested in this way is how great leaders become great leaders, and it’s how you can begin to realize your leadership potentials.
In all you do, believe in yourself. Trust in God. Try new skills and experiences. You will fail sometimes. You will also succeed a lot. No mountain is too high for you to climb, all you have to do, is have some faith.
It’s essential that you maintain a calm and confident manner, no matter how difficult or bleak the situation may seem. Cast your burden to the Lord and leave it there. The Bible says, “Weeping endures for the night but joy comes in the morning”.