The skies are closed, the world is closed, but that doesn’t shed even a glimmer of disappointment to the young and enthusiastic brains in this country who believe that the world will weather the storm. They will have their chance in the skies. They are adamant that aviation has become part of our lives and the future of the world. 

As airlines across the globe are restrategizing on how they will recover after the health pandemic, one thing will come out clear, that the number of aviators have been declining as most of them are aging and approaching retirement. To young aspiring aviators, this is a gap that needs to be filled as quickly as possible. However, there seems to be hope for the future as two organizations seek to address this challenge and provide a platform for future aviators. 

“We do not have enough young men and women who are qualified pilots in Kenya, and this is likely going to bring doom in the aviation industry if we do not train our children to be pilots.” Those are the words of the founder and president of Young Aviators Club of Africa, Capt. Mercy Makau who is leading the charge to rewrite the future and prevent a major crisis in the aviation sector.

The Young Aviators Club of Africa (YACA) was established in 2012 to enhance existing, as well as develop new aviation related programs at all education levels with an aim of creating interest in the aviation industry among the youth from an early age. With over 60,000 youth members across Kenya and the East African region, the club has a broad spectrum of social and economic backgrounds.

Over the past few years the club has managed to spread to almost all institutions that are offering aviation studies as part of its curriculum. Some of the schools under YACA include Alliance Girls High School, Nanyuki High School, Nairobi School, Moi Forces Academy, Moi Kabarak, Juja Preparatory and Utawala Boys Academy. These schools have been part of the growing institutions that are benefitting from the club.

With over 900 mentors, the club engages the youth in age-relevant progressive aviation and STEM programs which are delivered through presentations, hands on practical work, visits to aviation facilities and holiday camps. The partnership between the club and various organizations has also enabled the next generation of aviation professionals to be nurtured. Partners working with the club include: the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), the Center of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education Africa (CEMASTEA) and the Ministry of Education.

YACA recently held the First Eastern and Southern Africa Youth Aviation Education Fair at Juja Preparatory and Senior School.  The event that brought together many passionate aviation enthusiasts was a blessing to the students as they managed to learn firsthand about the sector. The club looks forward to continuing impacting the youth even as they begin preparation for the Holiday camps that provide students with more knowledge and experience. Key personalities who attended the event include Mr. Eyob (representing ICAO), Capt. Mercy Makau (YACA), Capt. Ririani (Chairman Kenya School Of Flying), Mr. Mathenge (representing CEMASTEA), Madam Victoria Wayu (Director of Education Kiambu County), Eng. Teresa Njoroge (Director, Association of Women In engineering) and Madam Giovanna Bunei (President of the Association of Women in Corporate and Business Aviation). Attendees were also offered helicopter flights at the venue.

In line with YACA’s desire to nurture youth to pursue their dreams in aviation, the Moi Girls Nairobi Aviation Club has also embarked on giving the youth the required experience to brave the aviation field. Under the leadership of Sallyann Munguti, the club has managed to set precedence for all school-sponsored clubs.

Coming from the shadows of oblivion the club has managed to become a pride for many. Talking in an exclusive with the Insyder, members termed the club as an interesting and fun club to join. Addressing the fact that the number of females taking over in the aviation industry is still at its lowest, the members have decided to give their all and change this statistic.  Being an organization that brings female aviation enthusiasts under one roof, they purpose to nurture the passion of students interested in aviation and would like to join the aviation world for their careers. 

“Under the patronage of Mr. Otieno and Mr. Nyamor, we are working to improve the number of female pilots. With well trained aviators from Standard Aviation School, our girls are gaining the required knowledge and skills to go to the top of the ladder. The guidelines and training we receive have enabled us to become competitive in this field and give many schools a run for their money. 

Even as many people associate Science and Math related courses as meant for boys, we still are eager to be aviators and make our mark in the future of flying,” Sallyann said. 

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The members who included Eve Wanjiru, Faithrose Daniel, Celine Kinyanjui, Abigael Kihia, Tracy Atieno, Bridgit Ogutu, Veronica Munyao, vowed not to relent until they manage to create a gender balance in the aviation field. Even though they understand that it would take time, they hope that their efforts will drive many schools to follow their path.

Despite the low number of youth taking up aviation as a career , these organizations seek to make it a valuable career. With Kenya handling 875 flights each day, the lack of future aviators will result in loss of revenue and jobs for many.  We really hope that everyone will join hands with these incredible organizations and help make Kenya a global aviation hub.