Despite outright gender imbalance in the aviation industry, pilots who are women continue to make huge strides in the aviation industry. 

In the world over, most countries have less than 10 percent of female commercial pilots in their ranks. Women hold few senior executive positions within the industry. The same is true on the flight deck, where women represent about 5 percent of the global pilot population and an even smaller percentage of captains. In the United States, only around 5 percent of commercial pilots are women. 

India ranks as the country with the highest number of female pilots at 15 percent, Air India has the largest number of female pilots. 

Kenya has over 30 female pilots. Airline Captain Irene Koki Mutungi, commonly known as Koki Mutungi was the first female on the African continent to become certified as a Captain of the Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” aircraft. 

Despite outright gender imbalance in the aviation industry, pilots who are women continue to make huge strides in the aviation industry. They have proven that this sector is no longer a preserve for men as they continue to shine. This week, WKN celebrates three women who are certainly not afraid of heights. 

Captain Irene Koki 

She is Africa’s first black female captain of Boeing  787 Dreamliner. Irene also joined KQ as the first female pilot in 1995. Koki is remembered for landing KQ’s fourth Dreamliner in August 2015. The Crabtree Aviation alumnus took on a piloting career despite facing opposition from her father. 

At a tender age of 17, she started her flight school and scaled the heights to become captain proving many naysayers wrong. The 47 year old enjoys flying to the Far East, Europe and the US.

Captain Ruth Karauri 

Captain Ruth, one of the pioneer Kenyan women pilots working for Kenya Airways hit the headlines last year in March when she successfully landed a KQ Boeing 787 with the help of First Officer Ayub Harunary despite the Storm Eunice at Heathrow airport. 

Storm Eunice challenged pilots heading to Heathrow. Due to the horrible weather a number of pilots were compelled to reroute while others had to circle Heathrow before making a landing. KQ hailed the great skills the duo portrayed at the time of landing.

An aviation enthusiast, Jerry  Dryer filmed the Boeing 737 plane as it made its way to the airport. He carried the landing live on his Big Jet TV channel attracting  more than 200,000 live viewers by the time Captain Karauri landed. 

Karauri’s ambition of being a pilot was sparked  at a tender age of eight years by a KQ commercial that aired on a local TV station. She aspired to be a pilot at the time because she admired the stylish outfits won by pilots.

Captain Peninah Karanjah 

She is the first woman to command RwandAir. She began her career in September 2012 as a First Officer. Her work impressed her boss and coworkers and as a result she was promoted to being a captain on May 12, 2013 and became the first woman to hold such a rank in Rwanda. 

The Loreto High School alumnus enrolled at the 43 Air School in Port Albert , South Africa in 2004 for a pilot training program.