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Captain Hussein Farrah: From A Presidential Pilot To Owning Successful Air Charter Company

The aviation industry fascinates Kenyans due to the prestige associated with flying. While many dream of becoming aviators, only a few end up in the profession. Col (rtd) Hussein Farrah is not your ordinary pilot as he used to fly the late president Daniel arap Moi. The ex-commander of the Kenya Airforce VIP squadron went on to establish Bluebird Aviation Airline after serving the country for 23 years. 

Here is Captain Hussein Farrah story as told by WoK.


Captain Hussein Farrah was trained  as a pilot by British Army before Kenya gained her independence. He joined the Kenya Army in 1971 but it was not until 1983 that he got a chance to join the presidential pilots during the reign of mzee Moi. He worked as a co-pilot for one year before being promoted to a Captain in 1984.

At the time, Kenya had not established a special mode of air transport for the president. He would fly the Head of State in the DHC-5 Buffalo transport aircraft which was bought in the early 1970s. In 1990, the presidential air transport was upgraded into a VIP Squadron which followed the acquisition of the Canadian Dash 8 jet. Hussein flew President Moi in the new jeft for two years before his retirement in 1992. He handed over the reins to his student Colonel (Rtd) James Gitahi who flew President Moi and his successor Mwai Kibaki.

Establishing Bluebird Aviation

After retiring from the presidential league, Hussein went on to establish Bluebird Aviation in 1992 which offers executive air transport to humanitarian organizations, private clients and government institutions. The airline is licensed by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and is a leading provider for scheduled, non-scheduled and ad-hoc air charter services in the East African region. With its headquarters based at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, the company provides different services including medical evacuations, private charter, group charter, emergency and repatriation flights, cargo charter and medical relief flight operations among others.

The company owns several planes including a De Havilland Canada Dash 8-Q400, Fokker 50, Beechcraft 1900D, Let L-410 Turbolet, Beechcraft Kingair B200 and De Havilland Canada Dash 8 –Q100. The company works with high end clients including the United Nations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kenya Red Cross Society, Federal government of the United States, Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC), Safarilink and Pacific Architects and Engineers.

Leadership and Management

The Company has Captain Hussein Farah as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Captain Hussein Mohammed as the General Manager and Captain Mohammed Adan as the Technical Director. Colonel James Gitahi who took over from Captain Farah, served at the presidential league for over 15 years where he flew both the late President Moi and President Kibaki. He retired in 2010 and joined his mentor at Bluebird Aviation where he currently works as the Chief Pilot. Other key leaders of the company include Paul Kasina who is the Finance and Administration Manager, Captain Said Swaleh Khamis who serves as the Safety & Quality Manager and Enock Korir who is the Base Manager.