Soft-spoken 24-year-old Selorm Kobla Santino Adedavoh had always wanted to be a pilot from his infancy, but he never imagined that besides achieving that life time dream, he was also going to be Ghana’s first ever locally-trained Commercial Pilot with Instrument and Multi-engine rating.
“I feel privileged and I feel very good that I have brought it to light that you can train in Ghana and you can attain Commercial Pilot License (CPL) right here in Ghana,” he said with pride and a touch of smile, spotting his white short-sleeve shirt with the black and gold stripes on his shoulder, marched with a black trousers and black-tie.
The six-foot-five tall maiden locally-trained Commercial Pilot is not only aware of the historic feat he has chalked; he also believes Ghana Airways will bounce back sooner than later, and he would be one of the first pilots to fly Ghana Airways aircrafts again.
Selorm was among the first batch of 16 graduates from Ghana’s first privately-owned internationally and locally certified aviation school, Mish Aviation School at Tema Community 22. Some trained for the basic Private Pilot License (PPL), which means they cannot be hired and rewarded for flying; but Selorm was one of the few who went for the full CPL (Commercial Pilot License) and emerged with flying colours. This means he is ready to be hired and paid by any airline.
The training comprised a comprehensive ground school in Aeronautical Knowlege; Skills Training involving flying with assistance for specific number of hours, flying cross-country, and flying solo for at least 10 hours for the PPL and 50 hours for the CPL. They then took internal written mock exams, internal flight skill tests and finally the external exam run by the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), which is the license issuing authority.
Selorm and all his 15 colleagues obtained 100 pass in the PPL written test, and they went on to also clock another 100 pass in the skills test for the CPL. For their reward, they each obtained the Aeronautical Knowledge Certificates from Mish Aviation, plus PPL and or CPL licenses from the GCAA.
He and two other Ghanaians had enrolled to undertake the flight training program, but Selorm was the only Ghanaian who continued the CPL program to cross the finishing line with excellence. The rest were Nigerians. The two other Ghanaians [names withheld] dropped out after the PPL program voluntarily.
It must have been destiny that made Selorm finish as the first and only Ghanaian currently trained locally as a full Commercial Pilot, because “at age one, Selorm was already showing signs of flying aircrafts,” his proud mother, Ophelia Kokui Adadevor said.
His dad, Dumegah Eric Adadevoh also recalled “my mother of blessed memories [Selorm’s late grandmother] used to call Selorm ‘my pilot, my pilot’ when he was very young so it is not a surprise he has turned out to be one.”
Selorm attended University Primary School; moved to Ghana Atomic Energy Commission for his JHS education, then to Seven Great SHS at Dansoman for his SSCE, where he qualified to read Biological Science at the University of Ghana.
He was on Level 200 gunning for the Medical School when he got wind of Mish Aviation School through his senior sister, Senyuiedworm Adadevoh, a Photojournalist with FIFA.
Senyuiedzorm had met Mish Aviation CEO and President, Flight Captain Ibrahim Mshelia on a flight from Nigeria to Ghana, and the captain had mentioned Mish Aviation School to her in a conversation.
Selorm’s parents, Dumegah Eric Adadevoh and Ophelia Korkui Adadevoh (Mrs) did not hesitate to move Selorm from Legon to Mish Aviation because they remembered Selorm’s late grandma’s prophecy about him, and that was enough for them to commit a whopping US$90,000 to put Selorm through the 18-month CPL program at Mish Aviation.
Daddy said: “I had always wanted Selorm to be a medical doctor because I am a ‘disappointed medical doctor’. I had wanted to be a medical doctor myself but I couldn’t so I had hoped Selorm became one.”
But daddy, who is now a Statistician and dealer in Construction Equipment, said he had to give up his dream of seeing Selorm become a medical doctor to ensure that Selorm’s grandma’s prophecy came to pass.
“I encouraged him into training as a pilot and I have not regretted investing that money in him – in fact I am considering buying an aircraft for the school because they have helped me to make my son achieve his dream,” Dumegah said.
Selorm himself said he could not miss the rare opportunity to achieve his life time dream of becoming a pilot, training right here in Ghana, so he had no qualms dropping out of the university.
“Now there is no turning back for me – I am not going back to pursue medicine – I look forward to becoming an Aviation Instructor,” he said.
He said the course was not as difficult as many think, but it was different from the university where he only read his books to prepare for exams.
“At Mish Aviation I was required to be fully aware of whatever is around me and be disciplined and to take every little thing seriously because piloting requires high level of alertness at all times,” he said.
Selorm remembers his first time flying solo, and it came with mixed feelings. It was a single-engine CESNA 172, which could take four passengers at a time.
“I was excited and a little bit scared too but then I knew Capt. Mshelia wouldn’t have cleared me if he thought I was not ready because he was aware if I crashed he would be losing his plane and would also be accounting to my parents.”
Selorm also flew the six-seater twin or multi engine Piper Aztec (PA 23) as part of his practical training.
But having completed the course with flying colours, Selorm is now super confident and audacious he can fly any aircraft on any day, provided he is rated. And he dreams of flying big commercial aircrafts like the Emirates, Delta and others. But top on the list for him is Ghana Airways, which he believes will bounce back.
He and his colleagues will be formally graduated at a ceremony in weeks. But ahead of his graduation, he is already getting offers from some airlines that operate in the country, but he said his first option would be to consider the offer from the school to be a Flight Instructor. And the Director of the school, Capt. Mshelia has offered to foot Selorm’s bill to train abroad as an instructor , which is scarce in Ghana.
Selorm has opened a door for many other young Ghanaians to believe in their ability to train in Ghana and become commercial pilots, and he is advising young people like himself to believe in themselves and give it a shot.
And Captain Mshelia agreed with Selorm that the notion that one needed to have science background to go into piloting is unfounded, at least not with the benefit of modern technology.
“Now with Mathematics and English, plus three other credits in any subjects from SHS, anyone qualifies to learn how to pilot – it does not have to be science necessarily – the only other thing you need is good physical health and the right attitude,” Captain Mshelia said.
He also refuted the notion that only persons with blood genotype ‘AA’ could fly aircrafts, saying that with the benefit of technology and modern medicine it is now possible for people with ‘AS’ to fly aircrafts.
Capt Mshelia is overly proud of Selorm and has offered to sponsor his training as a full Certified Flight Instructor. And there is a good reason the Captain offered to do that – because not many Ghanaian pilots have trained as Ab initio Certified Civil Flight Instructors; the one or two available are engaged with commercial flying, so Mish Aviation had to fall on imported expertise to run the course at the school.
He believes the cost of Aviation training could drop drastically if government partners private institutions like his and took up some of the cost like remuneration for instructors and also ensure reduced cost of AVGas (Aviation Gasoline) by refining locally, this will be a great help for schools like his.
“AVGas takes a greater chunk of our cost so I think if government could get a refinery to produce AVGas locally it will reduce our cost drastically and we can also afford to reduce the cost of training for students,” he said.
Until then, there are 18 more parents in line to pay the full Tuition, Accommodation feeding, and general allowances and upkeep totaling about US$100,000 each to book a place for their wards in the second batch of students at Mish Aviation School yet to begin their course later this year.
Selorm is the only boy among four sisters. He comes after three girls – Senyuiedzorm, Selinam, and Sefenya; and before one girl, Setornam. He is still single but seriously attached and he tells Adom News he likes good food, but does not have any favorites.