MEET THE FIRST FEMALE PILOT IN RWANDA #BLACKHISTORYMONTH

February, as we all know it, is Black History Month.
It is the time we celebrate the achievements of black people (both young & old). For the year 2014, Olamild Ent will celebrate the achievements of 28 African women on our facebook fanpage - www.facebook.com/olamildent.

Esther Mbabazi is the first female pilot in Rwanda, which she became in 2013.

Her family fled Rwanda for Burundi before the 1994 genocide, and she was born in Rwanda, but moved back to Burundi with her family in 1996. Her father died in a plane crash when she was eight.

She trained at the Soroti flight school in Uganda before being sponsored to continue her training in Florida by Rwandair.

At the age of 24, Mbabazi made history as the first female Rwandan pilot – although as a woman she says she doesn't make flight announcements because it scares the passengers. "Some people questioned why I wanted to do it, they thought I wanted to be a pilot to find out what happened to my dad, but that didn't have anything to do with it," Mbabazi said.

Esther Mbabazi
First female pilot
in Rwanda
"Being a pilot really was my childhood dream, I don't think anything was going to stop it. It started when I travelled with my family and we would get the free things for kids, like the backpacks. I really liked that and I just liked to travel. The whole intrigue of this big bird in the sky, I was amazed. That and the free backpacks planted the seed." Mbabazi, who is fluent in five languages, trained at the Soroti flight school in Uganda before being sponsored to continue her training in Florida by national carrier Rwandair.

She now flies the company's CRJ-900 regional jets across Africa. The death of her father 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. It could have stopped me, but an accident is an accident. If someone is knocked over in a car you don't stop driving. As a pastor's child I know that you have to let stuff go.

" One person who never questioned Mbabazi's plans was her mother, Ruth. A strong farmer and businesswoman, she wasn't fazed to see her daughter take to the air after what the death of her husband, who was a Pentecostal pastor before his death. "I didn't get any resistance from my mum," Mbabazi said. "In her time she was the only girl in her electricity class, so she doesn't have any issues with what I do. She has five children and whether we want to do fashion or aviation, as long as we're doing something we're interested in, she's happy."

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