Captain Diana Aupe Naker: Meet Kenya Army’s First And Only Female Combat Pilot 

By Prudence Minayo

Captain Diana Aupe Naker is the first and only female combat pilot in the Kenya Army. She grew up in Turkana county and not once did she envision herself plying her craft in a male dominated career. She wanted to pursue common careers like teaching and medicine. It was all people in her village could dream of doing and having no role model to emulate did not help her case. 

The young Aupe Naker performed exceptionally well in her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) Exams. She secured a place at Egerton University to pursue a degree in Economics and Statistics.

Here is her inspiring story as told by WoK.

Military Career 

Set to join campus, she headed to apply for the student loan and as luck would have it found out that cadet applications were on. After asking around, she took a chance and applied for the position. Her parents had reservations about their daughter joining the military and persuaded her to pursue education instead.

In 2010, she was among the  few women selected to join the military academy. From 3rd October 2010, she worked with Kenya Defense Forces in Embakasi Nairobi. She went through training at Kenya Military Academy in command and leadership studies, underwent basic military training, studied at Mount Kenya School of Advance and leadership studies in leadership, environmental awareness and environmental soldiering programs, such as planting trees. 

In 2013, she graduated as an officer in the army and president Uhuru Kenyatta feted her the Commandant’s Award for being the best overall female in her cohort. She went on to become a lieutenant from 2013 to 2018. 

Also Read: Military Officers Appointed By Uhuru To Key Posts

She later traveled to South Africa for advanced training in Aviation at the Starlite Aviation Training Academy in Durban. This afforded her the opportunity to become a combat pilot in the Kenya Army and she went on to be stationed in Embakasi. Escorting foot soldiers, evacuating injured soldiers and acting as backup when needed are among her duties as a combat pilot.

In an environment where danger can strike without any warning, she says the job is not always easy neither are the working conditions but as she reflects on her career, she is happy about her accomplishments and the support from the force.  Making an appearance on Citizen TV’s Mwanamke Bomba segment, her message to parents and teachers was that they should encourage children to dream big and not in one direction. 

Education credentials 

Captain Diana Aupe Naker currently has  a certificate in leadership and environmental awareness from Mount Kenya University, a Bachelor of Science in Military Studies from Kenyatta University and a Masters Degree in Project planning and Management from the University of Nairobi.