The Uganda Professional Pilots’ Association early this week announced Esther Kyokunda as the country’s first female certified flight instructor.
“Nearly six decades post-independence, Uganda gets her first and only female CFI (Certified flight instructor) in Kyokunda Esther aka Theo. May your glass ceiling shuttering feat inspire many Ugandan girls into a career path in aviation,”UPPA tweeted.
The Nile Post caught up with Kyokunda and in the interview, she said the feat didnt just happen overnight as she has always wanted to become a pilot.
“It was a childhood dream. I was about 12 years when I saw the cockpit of a plane for the first time and I talked to a pilot. That conversation changed my life goals. I just wanted to be like that guy (pilot),” Kyokunda said.
She said her main job as a flight instructor is to teach people how to fly.
“But that’s not all a flight instructor does. They are also mentors to their students. We prepare and nurture students for wherever they will end up in the aviation industry.”
They newly accredited flight instructor says that one of the challenges in the aviation industry is learning how to be patient as things must happen in their own time.
“Aviation training and aviation, in general, requires an immense amount of patience. Things do not usually go in a set time so you have to really be patient and accept the situation and keep praying for it to fall in place.”
Although she was born in Kampala’s Nsambya hospital 25 years ago, Kyokunda hails from Rutooma, Mbarara District.
She went to Kabojja Junior School for her primary school education and later joined Mary Hill High School and Nabisunsa Girls Secondary School for her O and A levels.
Upon completing her Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE), Kyokunda went for her initial training at Flight training college in South Africa.
She later went for a Flight Instructors Rating at Vine Air Flight Academy in Jinja where she country works.
Vine Air Flight Academy in Uganda is the first school to be certified by the Civil Aviation Authority to train pilots from scratch to Flight Instructor level.
Asked where she sees the future of the Aviation industry in Uganda, Kyokunda was optimisitic of big things ahead of her.
“I see the aviation industry growing within the next few years. With the revival of Uganda Airlines, I believe more people will be interested in aviation as there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
“Hopefully, in the long run, there will be feeder charters (these are airlines that take passengers on fairly short distances to main airports where they catch long distance flights) that will increase the demand for more pilots.
Kyokunda’s dream is to sit in the captain seat of a Boeing 777. She advises anyone who wants to cut out in the aviation industry, to just go for it.
“It’s never too late. Block out the negativity, keep turning the pages and always pray,” Kyokunda said.