How Kenyan Helped Steal 3 Planes From Tanzania in One Day

An Undated photo of emergency planes at a Kenyan airport
An Undated photo of emergency planes at a Kenyan airport.

Not many Kenyans might know Captain John Kiniti but his patriotic act in 1977 gave birth to the national carrier, Kenya Airways.

According to a report by The Standard, in June 2017, Kiniti, an employee of the struggling East African Airways based in Dar es Salaam, learnt of a plan by the Tanzanian government officials to seize all planes belonging to the airline amid tensions between the two countries.

After Kiniti’s plane was refuelled, three other EAA pilots were denied fuel after "orders from above".

On the Dar es Salaam Airport runway that morning were four planes, two Douglas DC9s and two Fokker 27s.


Instructions were given to deny the aircraft fuel as a means to stop them from flying.


The two biggest football teams in the country that time, Young Africans (Yanga) and Simba, had taken over Dar as many thronged the stadium to watch them battle it out.


Government officials thought that the fuel bar would ground all the planes, for at least 90 minutes until the football match ended. 


Since Captain Kiniti's plane was bigger, he offered to siphon the fuel he had to the two other smaller planes with the help of airport staff.


By the time the football match ended, Kiniti and his two fellow Kenyan pilots were already airborne and defied orders from the traffic controller to head back to Dar and instead, warned another Kenyan pilot who was flying from Mauritius on the issues in Dar, so that he could overfly the city and head straight to Nairobi.


The Captain Kiniti then switched off his radio and changed direction, flying over the Indian Ocean as he was pursued by jet fighters.



  • .