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After 24 Years As An Aircraft Cleaner, Nigerian Man Becomes A Captain

By Danielle Dorsey

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Mohammed Abubakar joined Azman Air Services, Nigeria’s Kano-based domestic airline, as an aircraft janitor 24 years ago. At the time, he never imagined that he’d one day be flying the planes he was cleaning.

Abuabakar’s story went viral over the weekend when the airline congratulated him in a Twitter post, saying, “He Joined the Aviation industry 24 years ago as Aircraft Cleaner. Today He is getting the Fourth Bar to becoming a CAPTAIN. Congratulations Mohammed Abubakar from all of us @AirAzman.”

Abukakar took the job directly after graduating from secondary school and was later promoted to ground staff. Over time, he worked in just about every unit of the airline outside of security, including ground staff and cabin crew. He credits this diverse experience for his long and successful career in the aviation industry.

While Abukabar climbed the ranks at Azman Air, he saved money to sponsor his private pilot license in Canada, which marked his take-off as an aircraft pilot. The journey was not easy, but his efforts paid off when he recently earned his fourth bar to become a captain.

Black people are underrepresented in the aviation industry, with only 2 percent of over 600,000 pilots identifying as African American in a 2013 FAA survey. Stories like Abukabar’s give us hope that those numbers are slowly rising.

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