You can tell from her necklace that her love for aeroplanes does not stop at flying them but also in wearing them. To know that she flies better than she drives is not a surprise. Esther Mwesigye Kyokunda is so passionate about everything flying and aeroplanes.
As a little girl, her dream was always to be in the skies. However she did not know how this was to be achieved. Whereas there are so many children who aspire to join the aviation industry, the dream soon vanishes as it gets outcompeted by the other “realistic” dreams. There is little to no information on aviation in Uganda she tells me. It requires one to put in the effort to find the required information.
Esther was not any different. Whereas she knew she wanted to pursue a career in the aviation industry, she scarcely had an idea on where to begin from. At the end of her O level in a conversation with her father, it occurred to her that she did not know even the right subjects to study at A level to join the flying school. On further search, she realised she needed to have mathematics and geography as the core subjects.
After A level, a window opened to join the Flight Training College in South Africa where she enrolled for a four year flying course in April 2013.
She returned to Uganda for work and like any other field, work was not the first thing to come across but she stayed the course. An opportunity came through Vine Flying School where she joined as a pilot.
Sometimes when opportunities come, they come in an overflow. It was at Vine that the opportunity to become a flight instructor came and she grabbed it by the horns making her the first female Certified Flight Instructor. Today, Ms Kyokunda is on the road to becoming a Designated Flight Examiner a challenge that requires her to have more flight hours and experience.
The aviation industry is very young in Uganda. It has been hardly scratched. There are more opportunities than there are people to take them up. With about four flight schools in the country, there has never been a better time to join the industry as today.
Theo, a moniker her friends call her after Theo Walcott who once reigned supreme as a football player at Arsenal, a club she supports, is excited to see as many girls join the aviation industry. “It’s doable. Don’t let people get into your head, they have never been there. They can’t stop you.”
As she continues to pursue the dream, Esther, now a commercial pilot, aspires to become an Airplane Transport Pilot with time as she accumulates more flying hours. The next time a plane flies past, it could be her, a star in the sky.