With 40 years and 25,000 hours of flight, veteran Kenya Airways pilot Joseph Kinuthia could not have been happier when he was proposed to lead a team of four other pilots to fly the Dreamliner 787-8 during the inaugural flight from Nairobi to JF Kennedy Airport in New York on Sunday.
It was a historical moment for a man who had not flown to New York Captain as a pilot although he had been there as a visitor. It would be fascinating, he guessed. Chams Media caught up with Captain Kinuthia a few hours before the flight and he shared his incredible story.
The 65-year-old told Alex Chamwada that it is an honour that the company selected him alongside three others, a captain and two co-pilots, to fly the plane to New York.
"I have never flown to New York so it is a fascinating challenge," he says. "And I'm honoured to be doing it for the first time for Kenya Airways."
Captain Kinuthia attributes his selection to his massive experience and the fact that he will be retiring in the next few months.
"I was proposed to be the first one to fly to JFK because I am the most senior pilot in Kenya Airways today. I have been there since 1978. And I will be retiring in the next few months so the company thought probably I should be the one flying."
Interestingly, captain Kinuthia has never flown to New York. He says he has been there as a visitor and so this becomes a whole new challenge. How do you tackle such?
"We started preparing for this flight the minute it was announced," he says. It was my job to train people on how to fly to JFK using a dummy route on the simulator."
In the cockpit, captain Kinuthia would be accompanied by a pilot and two co-pilots who will be assisting him throughout the 15-hour flight.
"I will be the captain to take off from Nairobi to cruise level then the other captain takes over through the cruise level before as I take a rest. I will the take over two hours to landing to prepare."
During his 40 years on air, Captain Kinuthia has also flown powerful personalities including former President Daniel Arap Moi and Pope John Paul II. He has flown for 25, 000 hours.