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Captain Fiona Akoth: How Resilient Kisumu Girl Rose Through The Ranks In US Airforce

Fiona Akoth was raised in Kisumu City but her family migrated to the US when she was 13 years.

-She has over time risen through the ranks from first lieutenant and is now a captain.

-Fiona flies the sophisticated U-28A aircraft and has been previously deployed to Afghanistan, Africa and Iraq.


When she was young, Captain Fiona Akoth developed a thirst for aviation and fancied being able to fly a plane but didn’t know her burning desire would land her into the United States Airforce.

Captain Fiona Akoth Profile: How Resilient Kisumu Girl Rose Through The Ranks In US Airforce
Captain Fiona Akoth.

Fiona was born and raised in Kisumu city and when she was 13 years her family relocated to the United States. It was during her middle and high school studies at Texas  that she got wind of the United States Airforce Academy and how joining it was an uphill task given one had to score good grades to be considered.

Akoth managed to enroll at the academy and majored in aeronautical engineering and Arabics. Besides her passion in aviation, she also had the desire in learning multiple languages.

Having been brought up in Kenya, Akoth’s proficiency in Swahili language got her admitted into the Language Enabled Airman Program (LEAP).

She however decided to polish up her language and jetted back to Kenya, for an intensive 6 week training where she helped in translating Kiswahili for international health workers based in Central Kenya.

I participated in a six-week program in Kenya where I worked with International Health Specialist and other agencies to provide health care to those in Mount Kenya and Central Kenya. This was a great experience because not only did we serve as interpreters between the doctors and the local population, but we were also able to bridge the gap culturally,” she told Air University publication.

She then went back to the US where she embarked on pilot training and currently flies the sophisticated U-28 A aircraft. The plane is mainly used in carrying out tactical air intelligence surveillance and in supplying special operations forces.

Captain Fiona Akoth Profile: How Resilient Kisumu Girl Rose Through The Ranks In US Airforce
The U-28 Aircraft. [Photo| Mark Piacentini on Flickr]
U-28 A is mounted with huge cameras and connected with advanced radio communications suite capable of capturing full motion range videos. The single engine aircraft is designed to land both in short runways and rough paths.

According to Akoth, working on the cockpit is an incredible feeling and she flies the plane almost on a daily basis.

My favorite part is that my office is the cockpit of the airplane. Everyday people wake up and they are going to work at a desk, like an office or something but I wake up and get to fly a plane almost every day which is really nice,” she says.

Despite the packed working schedule that could see her at work for long hours, she describes her job as a special one full of fun and more interesting than what other pilots experience.

“I think pilots in the Airforce have the most fun out of all pilots in the world. You get to fly really cool machines and we get to do really cool approaches,” she said in an online interview.

Initially, Akoth was at a junior rank of first lieutenant but has since risen in ranks to a captain. She has been posted to Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa due to her language skills in Arabic, Swahili and English.

“Over the last three years, I’ve been deployed three times to Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa…I am always working to maintain my Swahili, Arabic and studying Polish,” she says.

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