My first day in flying school. I am not kidding about this one like last time. This time I mean to tell it. It is totally my first day in flying school, & how I ended up here. I came to school with a bag – of course, after waking up early in the morning and got to school, sat in a class and waited. This was at Ninety Nines Flying School. Frankly speaking, I never visited other schools, nor did my parents take rides in the few full motion simulators around Wilson. Just emails to compare the prices. I chose this school in the year 2011. Why am I here in 2015? That is just about how life is, rather how my self-talk had been, “in flying school or already flying by age 25”. I just hinted my age. By then I think, the late Lt. Miheso was OC of the unmanned program – yes, we have drones in Kenya, which was at Laikipia Air base at the time. They have since moved to an undisclosed location. I was a technician at the same place. One day I approached him and told him I want to fly and I need advice. I did this because he was a Mang’u man. Otherwise, officers in the KDF are kinda treated like gods & they appropriately reciprocated, & being in their vicinity for my rank was assumed I had done a very grievous mistake. A senior was already screaming “Wachana na huyo, sir nitadeal na yeye!!!” He used to be easy going and he told me… “Just flying?” easy… Go to a school called 99s at Wilson & talk to Major Amin, and you can study as you work, “that is what I do…” He mentioned something close to that. He then told me that is where most Air force guys training while still in service used to train. I admired pilots. Therefore, this advice excited my dream! Fire!!! Pilots are easygoing people. Being commissioned officers, they are the coolest of all officers you can relate with and they never hesitated to guide me or just talk. So here I was fired up like a time bomb, looking forward to flying.
I visited the school around October, when I was on leave that year and frankly speaking, at the time I could not afford to pay the school fees. But confidence took me there, it was 2011. However, I promised Major Amin I would be back. Fast forward to 2014, at Embakasi when a sailor friend of mine with the Navy was so inspired of flying that he did all the investigating and even enrolled in a school, while I was still bumming and trying to explain to my immediate circle how I planned to join the industry… My dad had been aware of the dream and promised to support me. Deep inside I did not want to burden them so much with this. Little did I know I was somehow giving them sleepless nights. By this time, enough people had tried to convince me to “dream another dream”. Too heavy was the pessimism that when I posted a major quote by Joel Osteen on my time line, on social media about dreaming another dream when one dream died, that I received inboxes telling me not to worry, I would settle in another career, or even love the one I was in at the time. That is not what I meant by the way, the aviation dream had not died.
When a few of the stars I was waiting to align were almost all in position… They never align really. I went directly to Ninety Nines and asked for the account number and what was required of me. That was February/ March 2015.
At Ninety Nines, real Air Force blood runs, and I felt so at home at the establishment. On that day, I met equals. I even realized my ‘intensity’ of the passion was a joke… As compared to others. Which life is against – Comparison. A few days prior, I bought a sweater that I was convinced was black until I got home. – Usiku Soko though. It was a few shades darker than jungle green and in the dim lights; it appeared black. I comforted myself with the only reason that there was this eagle on the chest that made it feel like a pilot’s sweater. The struggle was still off this planet. I got to class an hour early. I had calculated my time pretty well. From Umoja to town and then to Wilson. I got to Wilson on time. In class, there were five people. Three sat at a corner at the front, under the big screen mounted next to a white board. I shook their hands one after the other and picked the spot at the corner, by the window. The other two others told stories, erratic in nature in soft voices characterized by random questions. Clearly, these were the first time students. From the stories that the other three were telling, I had started asking myself did I miss so much. I later realized that they were a senior PPL class that had just started flying. The two who were somewhere at the middle of the class were the new students. One was Charles and the other one was Frampton. Frampton was a real avgeek. I won’t go into the details until I get their permission to write about them. Later Silas joined in, then in came Kenneth, and the trend continued. The three at the front were taking about stalls and I don’t know how Bravo was bad at climbing. It was Greek to an extent but who cared! I am in flying school.
When the first lady came into class, the hyena rang alarms first, then Mr ‘calm down you idiot’ kicked in. Enter Ascar, who we, the backbenchers would later gang up and appoint as class president. She settled in, and the first thing she did was take a selfie. I must admit that her selfie game is tops. I suck at selfies, otherwise I would have taken a first day in school selfie too. The introductions from the head of ground school came through and told us to keep Calm and feel at home. The rest of the day was basically story telling. Except Meteorology in the afternoon, which we started immediately. The Air Law lecturer was the coolest. His stories were just on point and they blended so well with air law.
Clueless I went for lunch – alone, at what I considered the most run down kibanda in the vicinity, located at the periphery of the airport. Something at the back of my mind told me I needed to be careful with this place. Life would be expensive – I expected to part with Ksh 50/- at most 70/-. I paid Ksh 100 for my first meal and it stung. Probably with time, it would be part of me. It was an interesting time though, since I had a free preview and analysis of the just ended rally in Nanyuki. The guys couldn’t stop talking. Afternoon class was a disaster. Day one and I had already started sleeping in class. That was Meteorology, I have feared this unit since its compressed form in High school’s Aviation class. We were around ten of us by the end of the first day.
Few words were spoken that day. Everyone in a rush to go back to where they came from. Crossed Langata Road via the footbridge and then got into a Matatu bound for the CBD. I had a coffee date, which sucked a big deal, turning out to be a waste of all the category of resources even though it helped pass time as the line eased at the bus stop. I got home around 9.
First question they asked me… “How was school?” If I had punching rights… Right into their faces. In my world, you don’t ask how school was, since life does not revolve around school. Especially for me who has spent most of my life in school/ college/ institutions. It has become like a lifestyle. Better, when it is phrased “how was your day?” Kids respond better & appreciate “how was school” than adults would. I will explain…
Flying School: Ground School Day One