Gp. Capt.  John Presley OBAKPOLOR was born on the 12th March 1942, to Pa and Mrs Uwagboe Obakpolor of the Ogbeowemwenkon Bini Royal family in Benin City Edo state.             

He attended the St Peters Primary School Benin City. Then unto the Yaba Technical Institute for his secondary education where he obtained his GCE ‘O’ Level in six subjects and the Yaba Junior Diploma. He attended the senior school now called Yaba College of Technology studying Electrical Engineering under the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN) programme; Assistant Technical Officer in training (ATO).

He was admitted to Air Services Training (AST) Hamble in UK, to obtain a Commercial Pilot License (ATPL). He then applied for Federal Government Scholarship, due to the high cost of the course. The Ministry of education redirected his application to the ministry of Defence. Based on the fact his desire to fly would be met in the Nigerian Air Force this was been formed then in 1964. His engineering studies were put on hold.

He was in Kaduna for his initial military training. Thereafter to West Germany for his basic and advanced flying training. This was interrupted by the Military coup of January 15th 1966. On returning home, he was sent to the Nigerian Defence Academy on a Special Officers’ Course. He was commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force in 1966 as a 2nd lieutenant with anti-date of 1st July 1964.

He went to the Royal Air Force College Cranwell in UK to read Aeronautical engineering. On his return, he commanded various engineering units in the NAF. He went to both Junior and Senior Staff colleges at appropriate times. He obtained his advanced Aeronautical Engineering in Officers Central Academy in Frunze Kirgistan, Soviet Union USSR, and obtained Advance Diploma (MSc). On returning to Nigeria he was deployed to the fighter Group where the Russians’ Aircraft were deployed. He commanded the team that assembled the first three squadrons of MIG 21 Aircrafts that were shipped to Nigeria.

He was on the Raw Material Research and Development Council (1985-1987). He headed several sectors of the Agency and his tireless input earned him a merit award by the council. He contributed immensely in solving the problem of Aviation License Engineers and COREN requirements, which hitherto has caused rift between Graduate Engineers and some Licensed Engineers. He has represented COREN in many of its accreditation Visitations. He contributed to the change of the Air Force Technical Training Group (TTG) into Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) by facilitating the signing of MOU between Cranfield University in UK, and the Nigerian Airforce for a postgraduate programme in Aeronautical Engineering.

He was the founding President of Aviation Round Table (ART), a non-political and profitable organization; it was formed as the watchdog for Aviation Industry. He was the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) Chairman in 1984, during which tenure that Nigeria qualified for its first World cup and was 5th in the FIFA world ranking.

  • Aeronautics and Astronautics