Story of how a man rose from aircraft cleaner to aircraft captain




Through sheer hard work and determination, a man rose from an aircraft cleaner to captain.

Mohammed Abubakar from Kano in North West Nigeria joined the aviation industry cleaning aircraft and 24 years later in 2018, was crowned captain.

Speaking to DailyTrust, Mohammed revealed that he got into the aviation industry accidentally after missing out on admission to Kaduna Polytechnic in North-Western Nigeria for going late.

Instead, he opted to get a casual job as an aircraft cleaner with Kabo Air, a local flight operator.

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“I was earning N200 (Sh56) per day, even though many believed that I wouldn’t take the job because of the meagre money involved. I was later employed as ground staff with the airline. Through my service in the company, I worked in almost all the units, except security. That helped me a lot in the aviation sector,” he told the publication.

He rose through the ranks, becoming a cabin crew member earning N17,000 (Sh4,700) monthly.

After eight years at the company, he joined Aero Contractors in the oil and gas section of the company as a flight attendant.

When the company ventured into scheduled flight services, Mohammed gave some input that got him noticed by the company’s deputy managing director.

“After that, we developed a good working relationship, and he’d seek my input on many things,” he said.


According to Mohammed, when he received his first payslip at Aero Contractors, he returned it thinking it was not his.

“This is because my initial salary at Kabo Air was N17,000 (Sh4,700), and what I got paid in Aero was N170,000 (Sh47,000) so I couldn’t believe it,” he said.


Instead on adopting a lavish lifestyle typical of the sector, he instead invested the money.

“I joined a contribution system with my colleagues, and when it was my turn to receive the accumulated funds, there was a sizeable amount of money. So, I went to the managing director and sought his advice on my dream of training as a pilot.

“He was so happy, and supported me. That’s how I managed to sponsor myself for my private pilot licence in Canada, which marked my take-off as an aircraft pilot.”



After eight years at the company, Mohammed joined Azman Air as a pilot.

Mohammed’s journey was difficult and he even considered giving up at one point.

“But I was able to weather the storm, and here we are today,” he said.


During his crowning as captain in 2018, his current employer Azman Air congratulated a beaming Mohammed, “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.”


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