How do you keep an elephant flying for 45 years? Give Nigerians credit for keeping an elephant aloft for 45 years despite the obvious difficulties involved in such a momentous task. Most airlines use birds or other animals that are either swift or capable of flight as their logo. It is much easier to keep such animals aloft than elephants. For a nation that has the eagle on its coat of arms and The Super Eagles as the moniker for its football team, to use an elephant as the logo for its national airline, must have some sinister implications.

Nigerians are known for carrying excess baggage, and many Nigerian Airways flights have been aborted because the take-off weights were excessive. Nigerians in their peculiar way of thinking believe that a flying elephant carries more baggage than a flying crane, so Nigeria named her airline the flying elephant. In reality the name of an airline has no bearing on the amount of baggage carried by its planes but tell that to Nigerians.

Corruption both inside and outside the Flying Elephant helped keep it aloft but also hastened its demise. The palms of airport personnel were greased to overlook baggage infractions. Overloading shortened the life of its airframes. Internally, records were falsified by her bloated staff. At one point, the airline had more staff than the number or paying passengers carried daily. Attempts by the IFC (International Financial Corporation) to sanitize its operations were rebuffed by Nigerian Rulers who saw the airline as a personal asset and not a public corporation. It was alleged that girl friends were flown regularly to London and New York on the strength of a handwritten note signed by a military or civilian authority.

Burdened by excessive baggage, overstaffing, and corruption, the Flying Elephant became a land elephant in 2003 after 45 years, never to fly again. This might be a world record to keep an elephant aloft!

Africastallestman congratulates Nigerians for successfully making the heaviest land mammal, an Elephant take flight.

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