I came over to Kenya 5 years ago now after my company in New Zealand stopped
operations, and only planned to stay and work for a year but then the bug took hold. After 18 months
flying UN contracts into Sudan and Somalia I got offered a position on the
Kenyan coast which I could not refuse. I had always wanted to fly somewhere
tropical, as well as into safari lodges full of wild animals. So this job
had just what I was after. Yes I do drive to work with a smile of my face
each day! So I decided to stay another year, which has now become three! The
company is Swiss owned and do it all themselves. They have their own travel
agents all over Europe, 8 hotels on the coast, 3 safari lodges, a cruise
ship, as well as an airbus and 6 light aircraft. There are 6 captains and 6
co pilots flying the twin otters, and due to the lifestyle here in Mombasa
the turnover is quite limited. For example in the last 3 years there has
been no captains leaving the company. On a typical week we will be rostered
on for 2 full days, 2 half days, 1 standby, and 2 off. This can change
depending on the season and if pilots are on leave.
There is plenty to do during your time off in Mombasa, like diving, water skiing, sailing, and 2
great golf courses. From time to time though life in Kenya can be quite
demanding. Anything simple and quick to do back home can take forever over
here so a lot of patience is required. Also driving around needs patience
with miraa chewing bus drivers constantly trying to run you off the road.
But then again to go anywhere here is not far so generally you are not on
the road for more than a few minutes. Security is becoming more of a concern
lately with a number of break ins. We all live in normal houses and
apartments though so it is not yet like many other African countries where
you are really closed in.
To get licensed in Kenya has always been a difficult process and this is not getting any easier. A nationalization program seems to be taking place and so the CAA and immigration departments
are making things very difficult for ex pats, even the ones with experience here.
But for anyone keen to give it a go and becoming fed up of their standard
routine in the first world, I can thoroughly recommend East Africa for a new
challenge. The flying is a real buzz and quite varied, from tourism and
scheduled airline, to aid and relief. Good luck guys and enjoy your flying
before you hit the airlines!
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