All Hail the First Nigerian Pilot: 10 Things About Captain Hayes

#1 Capt. Robert Emmanuel Hayes picked up interest in flying while watching the Royal Marine officers on duty in Sapele in the 50s and desired to join the Royal Air Force.

#2 He was born on May 13, 1935, in Benin City, Edo State and attended St. Patrick Catholic School, Sapele, Delta State and Government College, Warri also in Delta State.

#3 Whenever on holidays in Benin City, Captain Hayes would always visit the Benin Aerodrome (now Benin Airport) to watch the military aircraft land and take off.

#4 In 1953 he was enrolled into a British program. The program trained Nigerian pilots for the army and he was the first one to obtain the certificate.

#5 In May 1955, at the age of 20 years, Capt. Hayes became the first Nigerian to get certified as a pilot with the Commercial Pilot License and returned to Nigeria in June 1955 to join the West Africa Airways Corporation, WAAC.

#6 In 1962, Robert Hayes and Rufus Orimoloye were sent for the Senior Commercial Pilot License training where they were made to fly the DC3 aircraft and promoted to captains.

#7 Captain Hayes also became the first Nigerian pilot to fly into New York and served as acting managing director of the defunct national carrier, Nigeria Airways.

#8 Experts believe that his was the golden generation of pilots in the country with fewer number of air incidents and accidents witnessed in Nigeria.

#9 He is described as a trail-blazer who opened the floodgate for young Nigerians to embrace flying.

#10 Captain Hayes flew for 40 years in control and four years on contract consulting for Nigeria Airways and retired in 1990

Originally published at Enroute Nigeria.

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