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HomecareerCaptain Lucas Njeru: First Pilot To Receive A PhD In Kenya

Captain Lucas Njeru: First Pilot To Receive A PhD In Kenya

Growing up, Captain Lucas Njeru harboured dreams of becoming a doctor. The eldest of six children, he never knew that his career in the future would be decided by fate. Flying above the skies was the last thing on his young mind.

Today, with over 15,000 hours of flying time to his name, he is the first Kenyan pilot to graduate with a PhD, a feat most pilots would say is hard to achieve. 

“When he was doing his masters and PhD, I wondered how he managed. Our work can be demanding and you have little time to pursue other ventures. Him getting his PhD was no mean fete. He is also an instructor, which means more responsibility. I commend him,” said one of his colleagues. 

Not only is he the first to get a PhD but he is also the first pilot from his village. 

Here is the story of Captain Lucas Njeru as told by WoK.

How it started

Lucas was a student at the University of Nairobi pursuing a Bachelors degree in Commerce. The then second year student was on long holiday when a friend mentioned about an ongoing military recruitment at Nanyuki Stadium.

The friend asked Njeru to accompany him. He went and stayed outside the gate to as he waited for his friend.

“I knew I was just going to wait for him outside the gate,” he recalled. 

Passers-by, however, kept on asking him why he wasn’t trying out as well. Finally, he decided to try out his luck and not only did he get through but he was also among the best recruits of the day. Before he knew it, Lucas was set to join the air force in 1997.

This news was greeted with joy by his excited father. The same could not be said of his mother. She thought it was his father’s way of escaping paying school fees. 

“Years later, she would be my joyful passenger,”  he said. 

Also Read: Family Members Who Are Pilots At Kenya Airways (KQ)

Air Force 

He joined the Armed Forces Training College in Nakuru which operated in collaboration with Egerton University. It was a different environment from what he was used to. Rules had to be followed and he couldn’t miss classes unlike in UoN. The physical drills were tough but he had to press on. 

At the end of his course, he received the presidential award for being the best student pilot. He joined the Laikipia Air base. 

In 2002, he pursued a diploma in Aviation Leadership at the Air Training Wing Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi, USA. He then spent some time with the Kenya Air Force before joining Kenya Airways in 2007. 

In the course of his career, he has only encountered three emergencies which he handled effectively. According to him, being a pilot requires good coordination, a competent mind, and the ability to make quick decisions. 

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He worked in the Kenya Air Force before joining the Kenya Airways where he has been for the past 14 years.


The KQ pilot went back to school and completed his Bachelor’s degree in Commerce. He soared ahead and finally graduated with a PHD in Strategic Management. 

He says gone are the days when being qualified in one field was enough. He believes people should be multi-skilled and it is important to always have something on the side.

He believes in the future planes may be controlled by machines and only require a pilot to manage contingencies. It would be especially useful during wars. 

His two sons aspire to follow in his stead and it is Njeru’s hope that he would mentor and inspire them and other pilots.