By CrossRiverWatch admin
Cassandra Idagbo or Cassie Duke as she is fondly called is a multi-talented, multi lingual and multi breed Cross Riverian through and through. With parents from the Southern and Northern parts of the state, and impeccable fluency in languages of the two districts as well as a degree in French, she has grazed through different areas of life before finally settling in as a pilot, and the very first female pilot from Cross River state.
In a rare interview, she spoke to CrossRiverWatch about her childhood, how she became Cross River’s first ever female pilot and the thrills and challenges of being the wife of a high rising politician, Hon. Legor Idagbo.
Tell Us About Your Childhood…
Growing up had the best years for me. I was born into a family of a great politician and had an early exposure to politics, fame and publicity. My maternal grandfather was a strong politician in obudu and so as it’s the norm with politicians, people trooped in and out of his home. Home for me was Ukwel Obudu, so my mum took us home at every opportunity which was quite often. Christmas holidays, Easter, New Yam festival, even burials. It was there I learnt what love in a family is, my Uncles and Aunts, Cousins who were more like my siblings because you couldn’t differentiate who had which child.
At what point did you start nursing the ambition to become a pilot following your background as a beauty queen?
I have an Uncle who is a pilot, he used to take us in the cockpit each time we went to Lagos on holidays. I want to believe that’s when the curiosity about flying started because my mum says I told her at the age of five that I’d like to do what my Uncle was doing which was fly an airplane. I looked forward so much to our trips in the cockpit and as I grew older, I was certain all I wanted to do was be in an airplane.
I had a stint with the beauty pageant world when I got into the University but before then I had tried my hands on a few modelling jobs. For me, being a beauty queen wasn’t job and so I can’t begin to compare it with flying. I enjoyed my time as a beauty queen, going for different pageants and winning but I saw it as a phase in my life and when it was time to move on in life, I did.
When it comes to flying, for me it’s like a virus. I have always known I would end up in airplane but how was what I wasn’t sure of especially with a background in French. So After Youth Service, I decided to start off as a Cabin Executive. I enrolled at the Nigeria Airways Training School to train as a Cabin Executive. I got a job right out of training school, flying for an executive aircraft. I worked with a few other airlines for about 3 years as a Cabin Executive before I left to train as a Pilot in the US.
How does it feels like being the first woman from Cross River state to fly an airplane?
I never imagined I would be the first female pilot in Cross River State, all I thought about was to finish up and come fly in Nigeria. I got a job to fly for a Nigerian airline right after I got back to the country.
The air space is generally considered a male terrain, how are you coping in such a male dominated profession?
Even though it is a male dominated profession, they are very accommodating. It was exciting flying with my colleagues who didn’t see me as a female but a colleague. It was a terrain for the men but as at today, it is the women taking over the air space and I’m so proud to be one of them.
How do you manage to cope with your husband’s high flying political career, the family, and flying?
Getting married was a big step for me and when I met my hubby, I didn’t have a doubt life with him would be a rollercoaster. Seeing he is a politician and with my background I knew exactly what I was in for.
After my first baby, I decided to take time off work, be around to assist my hubby during his tenure as Chairman of Council, also be around for the family and do something with time flexibility. I am glad to have the opportunity to expand my horizon, now I run a kiddies outfit, Ethanzplace and look forward to growing it to a bigger brand but nothing I do beats what God is doing in my life and I thank him always for everything.
Tell us about your future plans…
The future holds a lot and I am very excited.
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