By Prudence Minayo
Captain Ruth Karauri is a pilot at Kenya Airways (KQ), a doting mother and wife to Sportpesa CEO and now Kasarani MP elect Ronald Karauri. Her journey to where she is today was a cocktail of luck, determination and right timing. The Captain was the talk of the town thanks to her prowess in landing a Boeing 787 in extreme weather at Heathrow Airport as you will see elsewhere in this article.
Here is Captain Ruth Karauri’s inspiring story as told by WoK.
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Growing up, Ruth wanted to be a pilot and not because she wanted to fly but because she loved the dashing uniforms worn by the men and women in this trade. A KQ advert on one of the local TV stations captured her attention and ignited the desire to one day become a pilot. At the time she was only eight year and in class 2. Ruth told her father of her dream to become a pilot but as she grew older she realized that training to fly was a very expensive affair running into millions of shillings which her family could not afford.
She was almost giving up on a dream until an advertisement on a local daily by KQ changed the course of her life. The national carrier was in the process of absorbing Ab Initio pilots. This is a sponsored training where airlines take people with little or no flight experience and train them, after which they are absorbed by the airline.
Ruth applied for the training and was shocked to find over three thousand hopefuls when she went for the interview. What was even more intimidating was that some had degrees in engineering and others had done a bit on aviation. She left the interview thinking her dream would not come to pass. Having passed her KCSE, she was set to join university for a degree in electrical engineering.
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A month later, she received a call and was among the 250 applicants who qualified for the second interview. They were given a written exam which was like doing KCSE all over again. It had a number of subjects including Geography and Mathematics. Two weeks after the exam, she was informed she had made it through the third stage and it was time for the Psychometric exam. About 60 people sat for this exam.
Two months later, she received an early morning call from a lady asking if she had a passport. She did have one and was told to acquire the travel document as she was among the 15 people who had qualified to attend training in Addis Ababa. The passport was needed in three weeks and due to the short duration she said a bit of bribery was involved and she got it.
Ruth Karauri boarded a plane for the first time in her life and flew to Addis Ababa. At the beginning, one of the trainers asked if she knew how to ride a bicycle and she gave a negative answer. She was then told that if she couldn’t ride a bike then she would not be able to fly but she went on to prove him wrong.
Kenya Airways Career
After the training, she was absorbed by KQ. She has worked her way to the top and is currently a captain of the Boeing 737 and also flies the B787.
One of her most memorable flights was when she flew to Cotonou, Togo. The passengers were so excited to see a female pilot that as she was checking into the hotel, she was greeted by dancers. She felt like royalty. Of course, she still faces stereotypes with some passengers feeling they are not safe in the hands of a woman. Mrs. Karauri says she is confident in herself and this is evidenced by the skill she showcased over the years.
The captain was the subject of discussion-and praises- on social media platforms, blogs and other news outlets after she-alongside first officer Ayoob Harunany-successfully executed a near perfect cross-landing at Heathrow Airport as Storm Eunice raged at speeds of 70 knots.
In a video shared on twitter, Ruth stated that it was the vigorous training at KQ that enabled them to land the plane expertly.
“This is Captain Ruth Karauri of the now-famous KQ100 at London Heathrow. With me is my first officer of the day, Ayoob Harunany. We had the pleasure of encountering storm Eunice at London Heathrow yesterday. We were landing on the Westerly Runway into Heathrow.
“The flight conditions were strong gusting winds and it was quite a bumpy ride. However, thanks to the training we have had at Kenya Airways, particularly in the simulator, prepared us for such a scenario. We used all our training expertise and skills that we have managed to learn over the years at Kenya Airways and we handled the learning expertly,” a beaming Ruth explained.
Capt. Ruth Karauri, skillfully landed KQ100 B787 amidst Storm Eunice at Heathrow Airport together with First Officer, Ayoob Harunany. #ThePrideofAfrica is proud of you. #StormEuniceLondon pic.twitter.com/ddhtEkcqnD
— Kenya Airways (@KenyaAirways) February 19, 2022
Captain Ruth Karauri is a mother of three, two girls and one boy. Her husband Ronald Karauri was also a captain at KQ before he went into the lucrative world of sports betting.