Another excited morning. I woke up early and ready to hit school. I decided not to pack a snack for lunch today. I would try finding a cheaper restaurant. The last time I had this excitement was when I had enrolled for Management classes at the Kenya Institute of Management. These classes were a suggestion from my friend Gad – told you we have a lot in common. Evenings were boring at Nanyuki and there was nothing to do. There was no other campus in the area and the best thing to do with the time and the extra money was school. So I joined college. Another reason was due to the intellectual changes I observed with my friends who had been on campus. In a way, I wanted to be as ‘exposed’ as they were and The Kenya Institute of Management gave me that opportunity. Picture me typically running to the barracks to change my uniform into civilian clothes. I then went to the gate and picked a ride to the town for my classes. Fast forward to flying school the excitement was almost 10 times. It will get to a 100 once I start flying.
I woke up early. Had breakfast and was in school at Wilson Airport by seven. I had a corner – window seat. The cars the people the drama outside and watching the planes. I am naturally a back-bencher and this is my comfort zone of sorts. In this case, the corner was a perfect position. Behind me was the air-side and to my left was the main entrance to the airport. This is where I saw all the sleek cars and bikes come to the airport. The class is not yet to capacity and there are people discussing various issues. The group of young pilots from the senior PPL class was as usual in their position discussing their just commenced air life. Yes, they were talking flying, but the terms were simple enough to know that the much they had done was a few exercises in the local area. I will explain the local area later. This is the ‘playing field’ of trainee pilots in Kenya. I must admit they were intimidating. It was the cold season. Two of them were in these super cool aviator jackets. One had a suit but had a pilot shirt under it. Awesome!!! Remember my super Avgeek friend? In two days he had acquired the title “Captain”. His enthusiasm and passion was over the roof! It was just contagious. Somehow, he had the FAA Pilot’s Handbook and he had read it from cover to cover. At some point I was wondering what I was doing in the aviation industry. What!!! So much of me reading a book every week on Goodreads. This was the definition of Avgeek. Planes, systems, laws, emerging trends, career prospects, everything! That was a challenge well accepted. I vowed to stay current and get that book. Among the similarities we had was the period of the aviation dream.
At this point, I was still “undercover”. Still am to most. I am just a student who came from college to another college. My cover study field, electrical engineering. It stuck. The only challenge was the question which college? “A certain college in Embakasi” was my constant response. I never lied though. This was true. Occasionally the school’s director came in to check on us and make sure we were welcome. Promised to give us a proper welcome later in the school term. This was a party of course. We all love parties.
We had Air Law again and this as usual, was an exciting class. These lessons also became “get to know you” conversation based classes. The whole affair was interesting and we started warming up to each other. His class rules also rocked. For instance, the phone call. He approved vibrate mode. One could then proceed to check if the incoming call was important or if it could wait. If it was important. One could just give him a signal and they were allowed to pick the phone. I noted that during this time, he could buy a little time, so that the student would not lose a lot. With walking out of class, you also expect some students to be distracted. With time, I realized that, there were few of these interruptions. It always worked. His explanation of things ensured they stuck in the mind and there were always stories attached to them. Real life stories. At my point of curiosity – the air crash investigation type. It is the drama of the aviation world that really captivated me. I also learnt that I have not watched enough Air Crash Investigations episodes myself.
Other initial lessons of new units were also spent writing the topics to be covered over the course of our study. Of the units we would be taking, Meteorology or ‘Met’ was the widest… Among the many questions, he asked during the second or third lesson was the definition of meteorology and if we believe weather forecasters. This last question is one I have seen thrown around on social media whenever it floods in Nairobi. He told us to hold that thought and he would ask the same question after the end of the course. Which he did after we visited the Met station at Dagoretti and I got to ‘present’ the weather forecast like Ngwata Francis back in the day. Back to class now. I was still confused about lunch. I did not know yet how to manage completely the expensive lunch affair. There was no cheaper place to eat around this place. Heck! Even a mango feels ‘wallet – ripping’ after a buy. I went to the kibanda right next to Langata road, the one from day one. Had chapo and skuma. Comes with one piece of meat that is intended to be accidental as usual, but that’s a plot to make you feel your 100/- is worth it. The guys from the other day were still discussing the rally! Really! I had to be living in the shadows of my own passions and let someone explain the whole affair to me? It’s alright – for now. I love the rally too but I can only afford spectator stages at Jamhuri Park or Uhuru Park. Ha! Ha! Ha! Really. Therefore, those out of town affairs usually come at a “bad time”. So again, I eavesdropped on the rally conversation again. This time it was down to specifics and why their team lost. Terms got technical, engine matters and other mechanical issues came through, and I got lost for a while. For some reason, aviation and adrenaline sports go together… I am researching on the same. Need to know why. Speed bikes, muscle cars, bungee jumping blah blah blah… I will tell someday. This brightened my afternoon. However, I was worried I would doze off. I got back to class, sat at my corner, and braced for the afternoon. Principles and theory of flight was also interesting!!!
I did not doze off and before I knew it. Bam! 4 O’clock. We all left classes and headed home. I was still figuring out a more pocket friendly route home. Town route was becoming too long because of traffic and too expensive. I still used the town route. Langata road traffic and Uhuru Highway traffic cost me most of my evening. For 30/- and later 80/- to Umoja was a burden at this point. I needed a cheaper and more efficient way to manage this. So morning fare at 110/- lunch at 100/- and evening fare at 110/- again, was going to be a burden. With my side hustles on pause. I was headed for logistical trouble.
Flying School: New Student Experience.