Pilots Who Founded Successful Aviation Schools In Kenya

Kenya boasts a robust aviation industry with some of the leading aviation colleges in the East African region. A majority of these flying schools are located within the country’s local airfields.

Some of the leading aviation schools in Kenya were founded by former pilots and have grown to train thousands of students over the years.

Here are some of the pilots who founded successful aviation schools in Kenya as compiled by WoK.

Captain Joseph Martin Ririani

He is the Chairman, CEO and founder of Kenya School of Flying (KSOF). He started as an Air Traffic Officer before becoming a pilot. He flew in the East African Airways on the DC3 and Fokker27.

Captain Ririani later joined Kenya Airways (KQ) on inception in 1977 and climbed up on seniority and qualified as a captain on DC9, B707 and Air Bus 310.

He established the Kenya School of Flying in June 1992 with the goal of having an indigenous pilot school owned and operated by Kenyans. He quit his job at KQ in 1996 to fully manage and operate the KSOF.

Pilots Who Founded Successful Aviation Schools In Kenya
Captain Joseph Martin Ririani. |Photo| Courtesy|

In 2000, he joined hands with other like-minded individuals to establish Orly Airpark in order to take their training away from the overcrowded Wilson Airport. The school has grown over the years to own over 20 aircraft for student training.

KSOF has its main campus at Wilson Airport. Other campuses are located at Orly Airpark, Malindi and Ukunda airstrip.

The school provides personalized training and boasts the first full-motion twin-engine flight simulator in Africa. Others available include a Cessna 152, Cessna 172, Piper PA-28, Cessna 150, Cessna 206, Cessna 208 Caravan and Piper PA-34 Seneca.

Programs offered at KSOF include PPL Holiday Programme, Private Pilot License that lasts for six months, a Commercial Pilot’s License that lasts for up to 12 months and an Initial Multi-engine/Instrument rating that lasts for a maximum of 6 weeks. The school has 10 aviation examiners. A total of 1,500 students have since passed through the institution and 1,003 graduates so far.

The school offers accommodation services for the three campuses outside Nairobi and advises its Nairobi students on the best places to find accommodation.

Captain Ririani was a member of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) Board for over five years.

Captain Godwin Wachira

Captain Wachira is the Managing Director of Flight Training Centre which is located at the Wilson Airport in Nairobi. He is a trained instructor on multi-engine and instrument rating, and has vast experience in aviation.

He boasts over 13000 hours, with a good number of them acquired as an instructor. He is a holder of the ATPL.

Flight Training Centre (FTC) was founded in April 2008 as a business name and was incorporated as a limited company on June 6, 2010. Through the issue of an Approved Training Organization Certificate by KCAA, the school is able to provide flight training in all areas as stipulated under the ATO. Such services include ground flight training, instrument rating, multi-engine training, type rating and foreign license conversion among other forms of training as needs arise.

Pilots Who Founded Successful Aviation Schools In Kenya
Captain Goodwin Wachira. |Courtesy| The Star|

Denise Morchand

American Denise Morchand in a group of 99 women who were pilots joined to form the Ninety Nines Flying Club. She established Ninety Nines, East Africa section when she decided to relocate to Nairobi, Kenya in 1975.

Ninety Nines, East Africa existed as a social members-only Aviation Club. Club activities included training the Private Pilot’s Licence and self-hiring of aircraft.

In 1998, Denise decided to go back to her home country and sold off the club to its current management. The organization continues to hold on to the Ninety Nines mantle but has since concentrated fully on training of flying enthusiasts from the PPL training through to the CPL and MEIR training.

The aviation school is located at the Wilson Airport.

Lucy Karanja

She is the co-founder and Managing Director of Capital Connect Aviation Ltd. She enrolled at an aviation school in 2011 at the advice of her husband and later became a pilot.

Capital Connect Aviation Supplies Ltd was established in 2014 to provide quality, safe and recognized flight training in Kenya. It offers flight dispatch courses, private pilot licenses, commercial pilot licenses and aeronautical engineering.

It is located at Wilson Airport.

“Capital Connect Aviation Ltd makes sure that cadets achieve their end goal. Whether it is just a Private Pilot License (P.P.L.) for leisure flying or a Commercial Pilot License (C.P.L.) for a future career, we will make it our mission to make sure that you get the results that you are looking for.

“Being a licensed Authorized Training Organization (A.T.O.) that complies with the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority regulations and the International Civil Aviation Organization (I.C.A.O.) mandate, we ensure that you will achieve a flying license at whatever stage that is internationally recognized,” the company states on its website.

Suleiman Hamud

He is the co-founder and CEO Skylink Flying School. He co-founded the company at the age of 24 in 2013 alongside his colleagues Dilipkumar Kerai and David Sipocheof who were 29 and 31 respectively, at the time.

The school is located at Wilson Airport.

Since its inception, Skylink sought to demystify the perception held by many Kenyans that a career in aviation is for a chosen few. The school’s fleet has since grown from just one aircraft at inception to over 10.

According to a report by The Standard, at least 30 per cent of students are from the region, particularly Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.