A balancing act
Ruth Nyambura’s high school classmate was a certified aviation geek. He had all the latest magazines and unlike his peers discussing banal teenage topics, he almost exclusively engaged in aviation discourse. It was from these discussions Ruth’s passion for aviation was sparked. By the time she was completing her high school, her decision to float above the clouds was final. Ruth travelled to Oklahoma and spent three years at Airman Flight School. In December of 2003, she came back to Kenya and converted her license. After flying the caravan for two years, she moved on to the De Havilland Canada (DHC-5) Buffalo, a move she described as one of her career highlights. At that time, all the captains navigating the Buffalo were ex-military men.
Very few women nationwide were able to navigate it and she without a doubt took pride in being part of that category. In 2007, Ruth became a mother for the first time. “Being a pilot is fantastic. But for a woman, it’s all fun and games until you decide to get a family, then the industry becomes hostile,” she said. Nonetheless, Ruth summoned within herself a powerful sense of resilience and developed an enamored thick skin. The pressure and frustration nearly withered her wings, but she just wouldn’t yield.
During her comeback in the aviation industry, another hurdle emerged. The aircrafts began developing maintenance issues to a point her former employers phased them out entirely and were indecisive of what to do with the pilots. Her resilience and survival instincts kicked in again and almost immediately she got an opportunity to fly in Tanzania. “I love my family and they are my best friends. An overwhelming feeling of being homesick and yearning for them creeped into my heart,” she said.
In 2013, unable to resist this feeling, Ruth returned to Kenya and rejoined her former employer as a caravan pilot. She then moved to the Beechcraft 1900 and later became a captain, before finally moving on to the Dash 8-100 and becoming a certified captain for that aircraft. Following the birth of her third child, Ruth took a one-year hiatus from the industry. In 2019, she joined the 748 Air Services team. “Nothing gives pilots more confidence than understanding the aircraft they are handling. 748’s comprehensive training program helped me regain my confidence after my one-year break.