Dollar hopes to raise £12K+ for MAF (credit: Dollar Onwusiribe)
FundraisingHigh Fliers

Fundraiser attempts 120 landings to mark 120 years since 1st flight

14th March 2023

Dollar hopes to raise £12K+ for MAF (credit: Dollar Onwusiribe)

Dollar hopes to raise £12K+ for MAF (credit: Dollar Onwusiribe)

Dollar Onwusiribe – a social services manager and qualified pilot – has now completed 10 out of 120 landings in the first phase of his UK-wide fundraising challenge for MAF. Having taken off from Northants on 20 February, Dollar hopes to make his final landing on 17 December – the same date 120 years ago when the Wright brothers flew the world’s first ever motorised plane

On 20 February, Dollar Onwusiribe took to the skies in his part-owned 1978 Gulfstream Grumman from Turweston Aerodrome in Northamptonshire. By 17 December 2023, he hopes to have made 120 landings from one end of the UK to the other.

Dollar’s fundraising feat celebrates 120 years of aviation when on 17 December 1903, the Wright brothers flew the world’s first ever motor-operated plane.

Their gas-powered, propeller driven biplane, which they invented and built, took off from North Carolina in the US and stayed airborne for 12 seconds covering 120 feet.

What better way to pay tribute to these pioneers and to celebrate this aviation anniversary than to raise at least £12,000 for MAF?

Dollar in front of his beloved ‘Cheetah’ (credit: Dollar Onwusiribe)

Dollar in front of his beloved ‘Cheetah’ (credit: Dollar Onwusiribe)

‘MAF is dear to my heart’

The first phase of Dollar’s challenge had him landing in Hinton (Northants), Finmere, Bicester, Enstone and Oxford (Oxfordshire), High Wycombe (Bucks), Shotteswell and Wellesbourne (Warwickshire), Coventry (West Midlands) and Cranfield (Beds).

Subject to weather conditions, Dollar hopes to set off again on 21 March for his next England leg. During May /June, he will cover Wales, western England and Northern Ireland. In August / September, he’ll cover the Scottish Highlands and Islands and in November / December, he’ll cover the Midlands and the East.

Dollar successfully lands at Enstone Aerodrome, Oxfordshire (credit: Dollar Onwusiribe)

Dollar successfully lands at Enstone Aerodrome, Oxfordshire (credit: Dollar Onwusiribe)

Dollar has admired the work of MAF for a long time and thought that his fundraising challenge would be a great way to support some of the most isolated people in earth:

‘MAF is an organisation dear to my heart which uses aviation to make a difference in the world. MAF reaches communities who have difficulty accessing medical care, roads and food supplies.

‘I hope this challenge raises vital funds for MAF’s work and supports forgotten people in more than 25 low-income countries. I hope my flights will raise awareness of how aviation can be used as a force for good in our world.’

Dollar Onwusiribe, pilot and MAF fundraiser

With ten out of 120 landings under his belt, Dollar is ready to take on the rest but suspects his fundraiser won’t be without its challenges:

‘There are some landings that I’m really not looking forward to because of the difficult approach – the patterns of flying to the airfields and the positioning.

‘Also, the weather will get in the way 100%! It was quite poor yesterday and today so if the weather is not up to it, I’m not going anywhere!’

Come rain or shine, Dollar loves the freedom of flying when he’s gliding through the skies:

‘The freedom you experience when you get airborne is just fantastic. I can get in an aeroplane and fly somewhere a car cannot reach. It cuts time too in a fantastic way.’

Dollar living his dream mid-flight (credit: Dollar Onwusiribe)

Dollar living his dream mid-flight (credit: Dollar Onwusiribe)

Follow your dream!

Born in Nigeria, Dollar dreamed of becoming a pilot from a young age but was unable to obtain his Private Pilot’s Licence in his home country due to lack of funding and specialist education.

After emigrating to the UK in his 20s and becoming a British citizen, Dollar was able to self-fund his flight training alongside his job in local government. No matter how long it took, Dollar never gave up on his dream:

‘From about the age of six, I always wanted to fly but never really got the chance. Many things happened and fast forward to 2013, I took my first flight in a Cessna 152 at RAF Halton (Bucks). Six years later in April 2019, I finally qualified and became a pilot. I’ve been flying ever since.’

Dollar’s flying journey has not been as smooth as he had hoped:

‘I started learning to fly without really having any money in my bank account. When I did that first flight, I wasn’t sure I had enough money to pay for it. I just cashed a cheque hoping by the end of the week I would have the money to do it. I did get paid and that cheque did clear!’

Even rising fuel prices have not dampened Dollar’s passion to fly:

‘When I first qualified, I started to rent a plane from North Weald Aviation but in 2021 / 2022 the fuel prices really went up and it didn’t make financial sense to keep renting so I started looking into owning a share in an aeroplane, which really works out better. Several people in the UK do that and that’s what led me to buy a share in my current aeroplane. She’s affectionately known as ‘The Cheetah’ and she’s based at Turweston.’

Dollar is passionate about motivating young people. He regularly shares his story at Air Cadet Squadrons and speaks about the history of aviation. He also has his own ‘Flying Missionary’ YouTube channel, which documents his inspirational flying adventures.

‘10 years later, here I am embarking on this MAF challenge! What a privilege, an honour! My message to everyone is that you can follow your dream, you can achieve that thing you’ve always wanted, despite the challenges. I hope this will inspire young people to follow their dreams.’

Dollar Onwusiribe, pilot and MAF fundraiser

You can support Dollar’s fundraising feat for MAF here.

Media Coverage

BBC Radio Essex (17 mins 50 secs in)
BBC Look East