First female commercial pilot

First female commercial pilot
March 17, 2013 Dave Fullerton

Esther Mbabazi, aged 24, is Rwanda’s first female pilot.

After training in Uganda and Florida, she now flies Rwandair’s CRJ-900 regional jets across Africa.

“Being a pilot really was my childhood dream. It started when I travelled with my family and we would get the free things for kids, like the backpacks – I really liked that. The whole intrigue of this big bird in the sky, I was amazed…” 

Esther’s father, also a pilot, was killed when she was eight. The plane he was flying overshot the runway during a landing in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She says that this never stopped her enthusiasm, but it has influenced the way she flies. “It has moulded my character as a pilot and I think what happened to my dad makes me a little more safe.”

Being the first female pilot is a big change for Rwanda. “I don’t make the flight announcements”, she says. “It scares the passengers!”