Happy Black History Month y’all!
Black History month is celebrated in North America in the month of February as a way to showcase the achievements of black people and to highlight their great contributions to the community and society at large. Why not start from the little beginnings and celebrate the great black people in our locality. Today, we will be highlighting James Bamisaye, an alumni from the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Alberta and who is now pursuing a career as a pilot. It’s giving #BlackBoyJoy. Hope you are inspired and empowered by his achievements!
What does this word ‘SOAR’ mean to you?
The word soar means flying real high above everything. It reminds me of the eagles in NatGeo Wild documentaries that fly above everything looking for their next prey.
What does black history month mean for you?
Black history month is a month to celebrate and honor black people and leaders around the world for the contributions and the achievements that we continue to make in sports, music, education, medicine, movies and frankly every aspect of life.
Give us a little bit of information about your background?
I was born in Nigeria. Moved to Canada alone when I was 17. Did a year of high school and then a 4 year Engineering degree at the University of Alberta. After graduation, I made the decision to go for it and pursue flight training to become an airline pilot someday.
Why did you decide to transition into the aviation industry?
I wouldn’t call it a transition per se. I kinda took the longer route if you ask me. As a kid, I knew I wanted to be a pilot. I told everyone that would listen haha. At the time though, my thought process was: what happens if I can’t fly due to a medical reason or something else you know at least I will have a degree that I can fall back on. So I went and got one first and now I am on the way to becoming an airline pilot. I have my private pilot license and later this year I hope to continue training to get a commercial pilot license.
How were you able to do this? Some practical tips in terms of researching opportunities, saving and work/life balance, motivating yourself through the process etc..
Since it was always my dream I made plans early. I knew flight training was super expensive so I started saving up from year 1 of university. All the scholarships I got from getting into University, I put aside. When I worked in the summers, I saved more money from my income. I have been fortunate to come from a family where my parents can provide for my needs too. So when my dad would send me money in university for food and miscellaneous expenses, I would put away some too for the flight training fund. I always had a plan.
I did a lot of research on the internet on the path to becoming a pilot because there are several options out there. I messaged random pilots of instagram for direction and advice and seeing their content motivated me as well. The journey is hard but constantly reminding myself that one day I will get to where I am trying to go as well as seeing those ahead of me succeed is all the motivation I need to keep going.
As a young black man how has it been navigating the aviation industry?
It can take a little effort to find representation on this side of the world naturally with a lesser black population in a highly specialized industry like aviation. Summer 2021, I participated in an Alberta air tour where different pilots came out and we flew around several airports in Central to Northern Alberta. I remember looking around after we landed in Westlock and I was the only black pilot there.
I make content on Instagram to inspire, motivate and guide other black men and anyone else really to follow their passion in aviation. I reckon if people see someone like them actively pursuing what they would like to pursue as well, they would feel more comfortable approaching for guidance. When I was starting my journey, I could only find black pilots on social media and I reached out and followed them. There are associations for black pilots too that one can join to meet other black pilots.
What is one philosophy that helps you SOAR in other areas of life as well?
A positive mindset, outlook and thinking always. No one is going to push you farther than yourself. You can draw inspiration from others on the way but at the end of the day you gotta do the work. It isn’t always going to go smoothly too. You will face setbacks, hard days and feel like giving up. Rest if you need to but get back up and do your thing.
Lastly, how can people support you and follow your journey?
You can follow my journey on my Instagram social media page. I make content to share what aviation looks like from the perspective of a pilot and to inspire as many people as I possibly can. I do appreciate people who interact with my content in whatever way. Flight training is also really expensive which has been my greatest hurdle so far so if you have any rich dads, mums, uncles, aunties who are looking to do the Lord’s Work hit me up haha.
You can connect with James at: