Pilot who cheated death dreams of returning to the skies
Abhinav Peshwani is itching to fly again, even after cheating death while working as a commercial airline pilot in Nigeria. Now he’s including NAIT as part of his plan to return to the sky, either as a pilot or in airline management.
Peshwani, 27, graduates this week from NAIT’s JR Shaw School of Business with a diploma in Business Administration – Accounting.
Growing up in a small town in India, he and his twin brother would watch planes soar overhead and dream of one day flying one of the “metallic birds.” The twins moved to the United States in 2007 to attend flight training schools in Florida and later Texas, obtaining their commercial pilot licences in just nine months. In 2008, the brothers were hired by a domestic airline in Nigeria.
In June 2012, Peshwani was scheduled to co-pilot a flight from Abuja to Lagos. A day before departure, plans changed, and Peshwani’s brother was assigned to take his place. At the last minute, there was another scheduling change. The airline moved the twin to a later flight. One of Peshwani’s best friends was assigned to take his place as first officer.
“I flew with the same captain, on the same plane, for three days before that,” Peshwani recalled.
Approaching Lagos, the plane’s engines failed. The McDonnell Douglas MD-83 crashed into a warehouse, killing all 153 people on board and another 10 people on the ground. It was one of the worst airline crashes in Nigerian history.
“It’s hard to believe what happened,” Peshwani said.
With the airline’s operating licence temporarily suspended, Peshwani decided to continue his education to supplement his flying experience. He had family in Edmonton, and successfully applied to NAIT as an international student. While at NAIT, Peshwani worked five part-time jobs including as a peer mentor, helping other international students and as a supplemental learning leader, leading peer-run study sessions.
As he leaves NAIT, Peshwani has his eye on the sky again.
“I love to fly,” he said. “I still think flying is the safest form of transportation.”
Peshwani wants to combine his business and flying experience of 2,000 hours, perhaps working for an airline or charter service as a pilot and fleet manager. He’s also nearly completed his Bachelor of Science in Aviation from Karnataka State Open University in India through correspondence, and is pursuing his Canadian airline transport pilot licence.
NAIT's 2015 Convocation will be held on Friday, May 1 (6:30 p.m.) and Saturday, May 2 (8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) at The Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, 11455 - 87 Ave.
NOTE TO MEDIA: Peshwani is unable to attend Convocation but he is available for interviews this week.
The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is a leading Canadian polytechnic, delivering education in science, technology and the environment; business; health and trades. With more than 60,000 credit and non-credit students and a 98 per cent employer satisfaction rate, NAIT grads are essential to Alberta’s prosperity. Known for hands-on, technology-based learning, NAIT engages with business and industry in applied research and innovation and provides corporate training around the world. Recognized as one of Alberta’s top employers, NAIT provides outstanding returns on investment for its graduates, partners, the provincial government and the people of Alberta.