The Last Flight

// News | General | The Last Flight
Email to a friend Plain text Print version // Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font

Daily Independent (Lagos)

Chief Anayo Goddy Uwa- zurike

3 July 2010

book review

The book, The Last Flight, has more than 100 photographs. The foreword is written by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Paul Dike CFR . The Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the defunct state of Biafra, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumuegwu Ojukwu, wrote the introduction. It is significant that this book is coming 40 years after the end of the civil war.

The book is written in a free flowing easy to follow narrative. The human nature of the dramatis personae is made explicit. The reader is easily absorbed into the accounts beginning from the author's training as a pilot under Stanley of Canada Airfora and ending with the air battle of Captain Allwell Brown and company.

Chapters 2-9 dwell on the making and the progress of the author. It was not all work and no play for the author and his colleagues such as Lt. Danyinma Ato, Usman Jibrim (who later became the Governor of Kaduna State), George Jebak, Tony Makpo and Bob Aleyideino. They enjoyed their lives to the fullest. They partied, rode in their sports cars and had their brush with the Royal Canadian Mounted police for their youthful exuberance.

Chapters 10 and 11 give graphic details of the author's further training, the development of the Nigerian Air Force and the involvement of the United State Air Force. The frosty relationship with the German Air Force NCO on a training mission was highlighted with the example of Klaus, a non-commissioned person trying to use the colour of his skin to intimidate the Nigerian officers. The author promptly put him in his place.

Chapters 12, 13 and 14 give the reader the step-by-step development of the Nigerian Air Force and the often mutual suspicion between the various officers. Major U.J Esuene harassed the author for allowing his beard to grow. Esuene became the first military Governor of Cross River State.

Most of these officers were to become major players in the destiny of this country and the decision that ended his military calling. The author also gave a narrative of his Government College Umuahia Old Boys in the military in page 178 as follows: Major General Alexander Madiebo, Brigadier George Kurubo (late), Brigadier Tony Eze, Brigadier Pat Anwuna, Brigadier E.Udeaja, Brigadier Tim Onwuatuegwu (late), Colonel Pat Anakwe (late), Colonel Ifeanyi N.C. Aniebo, Major Emelifonwu (late), Captain P. Okoye (late), Captain P. Ibik (late), Major Ben Iloabachie, Squadron Leader August Okpe, Colonel Emma Iheanacho, Colonel Inyang and Major Aloysius Akpuaka.

He described Onwuatuegwu in the following terms in page 179:

"Onwuatuegwu was a good choice considering that he was contemporaneous with me as far as the Umuahian time frame was concerned. A bold officer, who was usually a good speaker, he used to tease me as to how awful it was for me to be the only Umuahian that was a pilot and, for that matter, alone in the Air Force. When I went to see him, he received me with his usual expansiveness and bonhomie. He could instil confidence in a condemned man! The important thing was that he expressed his willingness to be a defending officer and, in fact, gave me additional briefing on what is usually expected after which he advised that we meet again on the 11th of January for a rehearsal. He had carefully taken notes on what happened with regard to the flight and the German interest after which I left him the transcripts to study."

Chapters 15 and 16 give the details of the 1966 coups and the deadly lack of trust among the officers that led to the Nigeria - Biafra war.

Chapters 18 - 22 give details of the circumstances that led to the exit of the author and the officers and men from the various parts of Nigeria to the then Eastern Region. The commencement or the formation of the flight activities in the Eastern Region are clearly documented.

The hijacking of a Nigerian Airways plane by a group that included the indomitable university students leader, Mark Odu (now Prof. Nze Mark Odu) from Benin Airport to Enugu Airport is narrated here. This very aircraft will be used six months later for an attack in Lagos that earned Mark Odu detention in Nigeria until the end of the war.

Chapter 23 and 24 give an account of the teething problems after the declaration of the Easter Region as the Republic of Biafra by the then Governor of the Region Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. The author at this time also married his heartthrob Patsy Mgbafor and he was expected to settle down to a normal married life but his military spirit continued to soar.

This narrative in page 250 gives a lucid account of how pilots toast their babies.

"I was not insensitive nor indifferent to those tested and proven words of my wise teachers, but in an extra-curricular bias, especially after bomb practice runs with Correa, I discovered that I had also perfected flying extremely dangerously low and fast over a particular house- Mr. Godwin Okpalor's at Obiagu Road near the Hotel Presidential. I had nothing against Mr. Okpalor, but I was interested in his daughter Patsy, and my stunt flying or barnstorming over that house was my noisy and flamboyant was of informing her that I was back from a mission and that she was being invited over to join me for dinner. And, maybe, I was also trying to pressure and harass her father into letting her go. I, nonetheless, stopped this silly escapade that was threatening to destroy (by way of an unplanned contact or an inadvertent bomb drop) the Okpalor house, not to talk of the potential danger to my person, when on the 20th of June 1967, the old man, well let me marry her."

Chapters 25 - 46 give a meticulous account of the Biafra war, the losses, the gains, the deaths and the harrowing experience of the survivors. War is indeed an evil wind that blows no one any good. A young poet, the inimitable Chris Okigbo died quit early in the war.

Chapters 47 - 50 give an account of the despicable role of some countries that led to the death of many people, the selfishness of some leaders, the saving grace of relief agencies and some dedicated individuals. The Red Cross, the Caritas International, e.t.c. Count Von Rosen etc are mentioned for their good deeds.

This section also gives a philosophical view of war and what drives some people to become soldiers of fortune and others who deal with both sides. The role of the Biafra Babies (special military aircraft) and their brave crew was graphically narrated.

The exploits of the pilots such as the author Adindu Njoku, Obinwa, John Chukwu, Ifeka Onuora Allwell Brown, Ukeje, Johnnie Carson, Hagland, Norgren, Willy Bruce, Sgt Ex Coffin Nwagbara and Agbafuna are well documented throughout this book. So is the departure of Kurubo from Biafra. At the end of the war, the cream of the Biafran soldiers was not re-absorbed.

Nigeria lost a chance to integrate battle-tested pilots who would have replaced the Egyptian and Eastern European pilots who operated the NAF Mig jets. Most of the Biafran pilots converted to commercial air liners. The mercenaries moved on to other areas of conflict, such as Congo.

Be the first to Write a Comment!

Today's Featured News
Business/Techonology News
More News on

Tagged : No tags for this article

Headlines Newsview all

Sad! Woman Dies While Trying To Save Her Children From Electrocution (Photo)

Two people, a woman and another man have been electrocuted to death in the Ketu area during a rescue operation involving two children in danger.  Residents ... Full story

THROWBACK(1): Diezani Alison-Madueke In N2.2bn Bribery Scandal

The scam is breathtaking in its brazenness: in exchange for obtaining the authorisation to import gasoline, oil marketers are being instructed by an agency in ... Full story

Horrible! Dead Bodies From Abuja Bombing That Killed Many People (Graphic Images)

In this latest boko haram attack in Abuja, the bomb blast last night was worse than we thought when the news first broke! It’s horrific. ... Full story

Boko Haram Suicide Bombers That Blew Themselves Up In Abuja (Photos)

Boko Haram insurgents, who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, have reportedly claimed responsibility for the multiple suicide bomb blasts that happened in Abuja ... Full story

Shocker! Twitter User Who Predicted Abuja Bomb Blast Deletes Account (Image)

Social media users have fished out a Twitter user advocating for the Biafran nation who predicted the Abuja bomb blast before the occurrence.  A Twitter user, ... Full story

Nigerian Sentenced To 12 Years In Jail In Vietnam Over Internet Scam (Photo)

A Nigerian man, Oshanugo James Anyasi has bagged a lengthy jail term after being found guilty of financial crimes in Vietnam alongside other Nigerians who ... Full story

Wealthy Oil Baron Kola Aluko's Arrest Warrant Sent To Switzerland

According to insider reports,a warrant of arrest was on Monday sent to Switzerland where Wealthy Oil baron Kola Aluko is currently living as a citizen ... Full story

Diezani Gets Bail In UK, Passport Seized

After her release, her international passport was reportedly taken from her to prevent her possible flight from the UK. According to Sahara Reporters, Alison-Madueke is expected ... Full story

Diezani Alison-Madueke, Ex-Petroleum Minister Arrested In London

The immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, was on Friday arrested in London, PREMIUM TIMES can exclusively and authoritatively report. The former minister, who ... Full story

King of Goals! Cristiano Ronaldo Receives Special Award As Real Madrid Pay Homage To the 500 Goal Hero (Photos)

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrated becoming Real Madrid's top goalscorer of all time at a ceremony with his family and all his team-mates present to support his ... Full story

OMG! Governor Builds Multi-Billion Naira Mansion Four Months After Assuming Office

Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has been caught in a web corruption and diversion of public funds for private purposes four months after ... Full story

Comment on: The Last Flight

Rate this article


Featured author


Breaking News

US To Give Muhammadu Buhari $2.3bn To Eradicate Poverty In Nigeria

Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, disclosed in a statement on Sunday that the Federal Government has ... Full story

Super Eagles' Player Proposes To Girlfriend On The Pitch (Video)

Nigerian International, John Ogu went down on one knee on the pitch to propose to his girlfriend after his Israeli league team, Hapoel Beer Sheva ... Full story

Rita Dominic, Toke Makinwa, Chigozie Atunaya, Others Step Out In Style For AFFRIF (Photos)

After successfully holding four editions of the Africa International Film Festival, AFRIFF, the fifth edition would be holding between the 8th and 15th of November, ...

First Photos Of 2Face, Seyi Shay, Rotimi Amaechi, Others At #ComedyCentralLordsOfTheRibs

The Convention Centre, Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos is currently the place to be in Lagos as comedy superstar Basket mouth is hosting ...

LAX Continued His Europe Tour Last Night In Rotterdam (Photos)

The Star Boy and Caro singer serenaded the Europe crowd at The Empire Venue . The Tour DJ (DJ Ike was at his best as ...

Emeka Ike Goes Berserk With Over Marriage Crisis

A while ago, Splendor Magazine exclusively reported that Nollywood actor, Emeka Ike and his wife, Suzanne, were back together.It is no longer news that the ...

Pope expels gay priest from Vatican

The Vatican, on Saturday, fired a senior priest, Krzysztof Charamsa, who publicly came out as gay on the eve of a major meeting of church ...

We have clues on Boko Haram sponsors – Army

The Nigerian Army said on Sunday that no amount of distractions would deter it from ending terrorism in Nigeria by December.Theater Commander, Operation “Lafiya Dole,” ...

EFCC recovers millions from ex-minister, Diezani’s home

*More suspects to join former ministerThere were indications, yesterday, that a former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke, arrested and released in the United Kingdom, on Friday, ...

D'banj Expresses His Excitement Over Collabo With Don Jazzy

Just like the popular saying; Voice of the people, is the voice of God, famous singer and entertainer, D’banj and prolific producer are finally heeding ...