The Wachiras: Family Of Pilots Who Own Flight Training Center

The Wachiras: The Family Of Pilots And Owners Of Flight Training Center
Captain Godwin Wachira (3rd left) his wife Catherine Wachira (3rd right) their daughters Captain Leah Kihara (from left) Pilot Ester Karungari,Captain Peter Wachira and his wife Pilot Sophia Gichuhi at the Flight Training Centre Photocredit/TheStandard

Aviation is an interesting field and one of the best paying careers in Kenya. The Wachiras have taken this profession seriously and except for the matriarch, all the other family members are pilots.

In this article WoK brings you the story of the Wachiras – the family of pilots and owners of Flight Training Center, a flying school based at Wilson Airport. 

The Wachiras

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Godwin Wachira is the patriarch and pioneer pilot of the family. Although he came from a family facing financial constraints, that did not stop him from harbouring dreams of one day becoming a pilot. He chased his dream and not only did he become a pilot but created a generation of pilots.

Godwin is married to Catherine Wachira who is not a pilot but runs the family’s aviation school – Flight Training Center which is situated at the Wilson Airport. During an exclusive interview with Standard Media that aired 5 years ago, Godwin revealed that he has three children all in the aviation industry.

“I have three children. The two eldest children Leah Kihara and Peter Wachira are Captains and so are their spouses. Leah’s father in law is a pilot and Peter’s wife Sophia Gichuhi is a Captain. My lastborn Esther Karungari is a student pilot. A Captain is a rank that you get once you are able to command an aircraft and fly on your own. You can easily identify them by their shirts. A captain wears four bars on the shirt, a first officer/ co-pilot wears three and a student pilot wears two,” he told the Standard.

The Journey

Godwin love for flying was passed to his children. From a young age they began developing interests in the aviation industry. Leah Kihara, who is the firstborn, had developed interest and was sure she wanted to become a pilot when she was in Class Four. However, Captain Peter Wachira, the second born, wanted to become a musician but changed his mind after listening to the flight stories told by his father and big sister Leah.

Esther, the lastborn, wanted to become a veterinarian but the dream only lasted until 2015 when her dog died. The grandchildren, Peter and Leah’s children, have also developed interest in the aviation industry at an early age to the point of calling themselves ‘Captains.’

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Flight Training Center

Flight Training Center was established in 2008 by the parents and started off as a basic training center before it became a fully-fledged flying training school.

“When we started the school, there was a need because there were many students coming from schools abroad who wanted to convert their foreign licenses into Kenyan ones. The flying schools that were there then could not handle all the students who were coming in. I decided to step in and help with the conversion courses until it reached a stage where there were many students who also wanted to do the initial basic training,” Godwin revealed.

Leah, who started off as a pilot for ECHO flight, a humanitarian air service operated by the European Commission, is the Human Resource manager and a flight instructor at the school.

Sophia, who is a licensed commercial pilot, at the time of the interview was doing her instructor’s course while her husband Peter is a Chief Pilot at a local charter company. The school now has over 14 planes including a Cessna 152, Cessna 172, Seneca PA34, Duchess 76 and Baron 55 among others.

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