I’ve always known that I wanted to be a pilot from when I was a toddler. I was fortunate enough to get into the Griffith University Bachelor of Aviation program for my tertiary study to help achieve my goal of becoming an airline pilot. I completed my CPL flight training in 2010 and went back home to look for my first flying job.
It was quite challenging at first, but I finally got my first job on a Cessna 182 doing hops from Nairobi to and from the Masaai Mara and Serengeti game reserves. I would carry everything from passengers to food supplies and medicine and even got to see the wildebeeste migration from the air. I have lots of fond memories of chasing zebras and giraffes off the landing strips so that I could land safely.
Eventually, I got the chance to fly a Cessna Caravan (my first turbine engine!) with the Kenya Wildlife Service into some of the most remote areas on the continent. It was some of the best real life experience getting to fly game wardens into national parks to fight off poachers. My time on the caravan even took me into the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic just as the civil war was breaking out.
I got my big break joining Kenya Airways as a First Officer on the Embraer 190 in 2012. I got to fly regionally around the African continent for 4 years before being promoted to the B737-700/800. My regular route network now includes Africa at large, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East.
The aviation industry in Africa is still relatively young and growing so it is quite an honour to be part of that page in history. I am eternally grateful to Griffith University for the strong foundation it gave me. The teaching from the real world pilot lecturers and industry professionals in several fields cannot be overstated. I definitely feel I got the edge I needed to be able to succeed in getting my dream job.
In June 2019 I took the next step forward in my career. I was given the chance to upgrade to captain. I accepted the opportunity and went through what has been the most challenging training program I have ever experienced. Thankfully on November 1st, 2019 I passed my final command check and I got my very own set of 4 bar epaulettes. I officially became an Embraer 190 captain at Kenya Airways! It has been a truly humbling experience and I learn more and more each day on the job.
The not so good news is that Kenya Airways, like other airlines, was also affected by the COVID-19 global pandemic. The airline was forced to ground all flights and is only just starting up operations again. While it has been a challenge, we do know that tough times don’t last forever, and we will make it through. Now more than ever I am very glad that I chose to complete the Bachelor of Aviation degree.
-Oscar Soi, Bachelor of Aviation Alumni