US Based Group Project Sunshine Begins Aircraft Manufacturing, Flying Training For Students
In its bid to stimulate students’ passion and interest in aircraft manufacturing and flying, a non-governmental organization, Project Sunshine, has embarked on another round of training for students in selected public secondary schools in Kwara State.
The training tagged, “Aerostem Fellowship”, which commenced August last year at International Aviation College (IAC), Ilorin, was to assist students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics realize their dreams of becoming aviators and aeronautical engineers.
Project Sunshine is the brainchild of a political scientist turned pilot, Captain Idris Ekungba, who hails from Owo, Ondo State but raised in Ilorin, Kwara State capital.
Hundreds of students of senior section of public secondary schools including Queen Elizabeth Secondary School, Ilorin; Ilorin Grammar School (IGS) and Government Secondary School (GSS), Ilorin; Government High School, Adeta, Ilorin; Baboko Community Secondary School, Ilorin; and Unilorin Secondary School, Ilorin participated in the training.
Unlike last year where selected students were camped at International Aviation College, Ilorin for few days, the current training was conducted in each school in furtherance of the fellowship.
The students were taught the processes involved in aircraft manufacturing and flying an aircraft, especially Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA).
A student pilot, Musa Aliyu Damilola, who conducted the technical and practical session with the students in each school, said the participants were being enlightened on the prerequisites to build and fly an aircraft.
He explained that the training was also designed to propagate the vision of Captain Idris Ekungba of building the next generation of aviators in the country.
Damilola told journalists during the training at GSS, Ilorin that he enrolled for training in International aviation college having developed interest in the way aircraft is flown in the air in his formative years in Zaria, Kaduna State.
“We are enlightening young generation on how to go about it in the aviation industry. Because when you are gifted with something and distribute it to the young ones, it wouldn’t just be only you. So, you have name and set record for yourself.
“So, I’m here to distribute it to the younger ones around Secondary School with the opportunity of propagating the message of Captain Idris Ekungba of enlightening the young people with passion for aviation.
“From the first day we started, we did Aerostem programme. We brought the students together under our own umbrella. We showed them and saw that they generated interest in aviation. That is how you can bring young ones to generate passion for it, most especially the piloting and the engineering aspects.
“Had it been they don’t have passion for it, we wouldn’t be here today. They have been calling all the time that they want to make their own aircraft fly, how can we do more? So, that was the reason we are here to enlighten them more about it”, the student pilot said.
Also speaking, the Coordinator for Project Sunshine in Nigeria, Abubakar Shola Buhari, said his organization was retraining the students to stimulate their passion the more.
Buhari said, “Last year August, we started this training programme at IAC, Ilorin. Students were selected from five schools including Queen School, Ilorin Grammar School, GSS and two others.
“What we are doing is about Aerostem Fellowship for students that have interest in building aircraft. So, that is what we have basically done. Those are the ones we are training now. It is a continuation of former training, which we did in August last year. So, we are retraining them to show them more interest about what they are doing”.
He noted that the feedback has been encouraging with students showing keen interest about the project, adding that their call for the continuation of the programme prompted the sponsor to organize the retraining exercise.
An agricultural science teacher, Abubakar Umar at Government Secondary School (GSS), Ilorin, recalled that pupils who participated in the first leg of the training have been giving positive feedback while at the same time educating their colleagues.
“Fortunately, we were able to make two teams out of the 10 teams that participated at the International Aviation College, Ilorin.
“Now, our students have gotten the basic knowledge about Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), the components and everything they needed. So, when we were done, we kept it in the laboratory. We introduced some of the students that were unable to attend the programme to the components.
“We are happy with this programme going on that we are the first school to be selected for it. Those students that we have already briefed about the components, now they are seeing it themselves. I think by the end of this, the students would be able to fly aircraft. It is opportunity for our science students, some of them have developed interest in the RCA or engineering field now in the aviation industry.
“So, we are looking forward if some of them (students) can form another batch or team from the college so that we will be able to participate and get to know the rudiments of the aircraft”, Umar, who is a coordinator of the programme in GSS, Ilorin said.
A final year student of GSS, Ilorin, Umar Muhammad Sulton, expressed delight that the training has been helpful for the participants whose interest was to build aircrafts.
He said, “We have been in this programme since August of last year. So, we are happy. It gives us the initiative about building an aircraft. We are passionate about it since the day we have been taught, not just that we will be seeing aircraft flying. We have been able to build something.
“After we finished with our learning session, I will try to do cognitive thinking and how to be able to build something. My colleagues and I are trying to build an aircraft even for the school before leaving so that we have a record of an aircraft built by a particular set”.
For his part, Solihu Olaitan Habeeb, another student, said the training was an eye opener for the participants.
“They taught us how to build an aircraft, and from what they taught us, I know how to build and fly an aircraft. I will like to appreciate Project Sunshine for what they have done in my life”, he said.
A female Senior Secondary Student One of Queen Elizabeth Secondary School, Yekini Khalisoh, described the training as amazing, saying that she has been able to learn how to build remote airplane with simple available tools that could be found within immediate environment.
Ibrahim Aliyah, who is also in SSS One Class, noted that the practical session was interesting because it would inspire courageous individuals who want to become pilots or aeronautical engineers later in life.
At the end of practical session of the training, students in each selected schools test-ran their newly built Remote Controlled Aircraft to the admiration of other students, who trooped out of classes to witness the flying of the aircraft that lasted for three minutes.
Capt. Ekungba, a US flying officer, bankrolled the training and provided the aircraft components for the students during the practical session held in each of the selected schools.
Capt. Ekungba during the launch of the programme with his friend and colleague, Capt. Uchena Abali said the mission is to train a new generation of young people with knowledge of STEM.
He said, “For me we still have a long way to go in aviation in Nigeria, a lot of developments we have to catch up with, with other developed countries. For me it is about developing the manpower, let’s get as much as it out there, let’s even get the kids interested in STEM because only about 15 percent of African youths even think about STEM and the world is moving in that direction.
“For me it is not just about piloting and aviation, it is about developing Science Technology, Engineering and Maths. And those who want to be pilots, we would support them.”