Against All Odds: Tale of Kenya Army's Only Female Combat Pilot [VIDEO]

  • Captain Diana Aupe Naker of the Kenya Army at the Starlite Aviation Training Academy in Durban, South Africa on April 15, 2016.
    Captain Diana Aupe Naker of the Kenya Army at the Starlite Aviation Training Academy in Durban, South Africa on April 15, 2016.
    Facebook
  • If presented with the choice to either join university or the army, many would probably prefer a regular 8-5 career journey. However, Captain Diana Aupe Naker chose differently.

    Born and raised in Loima Sub-county, Turkana County, Naker is the only Kenya Army combat pilot in the country and has managed to effectively ply her trade in a career dominated by men. She is stationed at the Embakasi Barracks.

    In an interview with Citizen TV on Tuesday,  February 18, she narrated how growing up she was barely exposed to diverse career choices.

    "I did not have a role model I looked up to then. I just wanted to venture into the ordinary professions that I saw people in my village pursue. A teacher or a doctor," Naker narrated.

    Captain Diana Aupe Naker of the Kenya Army and Christo Beukes at the Starlite Aviation Training Academy in Durban, South Africa on April 15, 2016.
    Captain Diana Aupe Naker of the Kenya Army and Christo Beukes at the Starlite Aviation Training Academy in Durban, South Africa on April 15, 2016.
    Facebook

    She performed well in her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams and was drafted to join Egerton University to pursue a degree in Economics and Statistics.

    On the brink of enrolling at Egerton, Naker learnt of open applications with the opportunity to join the Kenya army. Her parents however prefered that she pursue her studies rather than join the military.

    "While I was preparing to join the university when applying for a student fees loan, I found out there were open applications for cadets," Naker recalled.

    "When I asked around, I learnt it was better to apply and try my luck but did not think I would make the cut.

    "My parents preferred I pursue my education. But luckily I was informed that I made the cut and my name had been published on newspapers," she recounted.

    After an interview, Naker was among the few women drafted to join the military academy as cadets in the year 2010.

    She trained for three years and in 2013 graduated as an army officer, and was presented with the Commandant's Award by President Uhuru Kenyatta, for being the best overall female in her cohort.

    Besides the aviation training offered to her by the Kenya Defence Force, she was among a group of officers that received further training on aviation at the Starlite Aviation Training Academy in Durban South Africa.

    Captain Diana Aupe Naker of the Kenya Army and Christo Beukes in a helicopter at the Starlite Aviation Training Academy in Durban, South Africa on April 15, 2016.
    Captain Diana Aupe Naker of the Kenya Army and Christo Beukes in a helicopter at the Starlite Aviation Training Academy in Durban, South Africa on April 15, 2016.
    Facebook

    Naker's role as an army combat pilot is not as easy at it may seem, or rather not comparable to aviation in passenger aircraft.

    "Being an army pilot is not an easy task. First for the type of work we do and the conditions we work under," Naker stated.

    She is tasked with escorting foot soldiers, evacuating injured soldiers, and act as back up when needed.

    Reflecting on her career in the military, Naker stated that she was happy with her achievements noting the support she had from the force.

    "I would like to thank the army for the opportunities and training it has presented me with," she remarked.

    She urges for passion in whatever career one is engaged in as well as encourages women to not shy off from trying out careers in the military. 

    Below is the video interview: