Captain Irene Koki Mutungi
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Captain Irene Koki Mutungi

Captain Irene Koki Mutungi
Captain, Kenya Airways 

Avance Media proudly acknowledges Captain Irene Koki Mutungi in the prestigious 5th list of 100 Most Influential African Women in 2023. As a distinguished professional pilot in Kenya, she stands as a trailblazer, breaking barriers and setting records in the aviation industry. Captain Koki Mutungi is celebrated for her remarkable achievements, including being the first African female certified as a Captain of the Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” aircraft.


Born in 1976 to Kenyan parents, Captain Koki’s early exposure to aviation, with her father serving as a pilot for Kenya Airways, ignited her passion for flying. Raised in Nairobi, Kenya, she attended Moi Girls School before embarking on her aviation journey. At the age of 17, she enrolled in flight school at Nairobi’s Wilson Airport, earning her Private Pilot’s License. She furthered her pilot education in the United States, obtaining a Commercial Pilot’s License from the Federal Aviation Administration.


In 1995, Captain Koki returned to Kenya, joining Kenya Airways as their first female pilot. Enduring the challenges of being the sole female pilot for the next six years, she made history in 2004 by becoming the first African woman to qualify to captain a commercial aircraft, specifically the Boeing 737. Her pursuit of excellence continued as she qualified to command the Boeing 767, eventually leading to her becoming the first African female Boeing 787 Captain, a historic achievement announced by Kenya Airways on April 15, 2014.


Captain Koki’s journey has been marked by overcoming stereotypes and societal expectations. Facing scepticism from passengers early in her career, she defied misconceptions about women in aviation. In 2004, she shattered glass ceilings by becoming the first woman on the African continent to captain a commercial aeroplane, an accomplishment she further solidified in 2014 by captaining a Boeing 787 “Dreamliner.”


Beyond her achievements, Captain Koki is dedicated to mentorship, particularly encouraging aspiring female pilots. Her commitment to breaking down gender barriers in the aviation sector has earned her accolades and recognition. Notably, in December 2014, Forbes Magazine named her among “The 20 Youngest Power Women In Africa 2014.”


Captain Koki’s journey extends beyond personal triumphs; she symbolizes resilience and determination. The first-ever flight piloted by a father and daughter remains one of her proudest moments. As a mentor, she shares her experiences and expertise, inspiring the next generation of aviators. Her impact reaches far beyond the cockpit, contributing to the empowerment of women in a male-dominated industry.


Avance Media proudly honors Captain Irene Koki Mutungi as one of the 100 Most Influential African Women in 2023. Her pioneering spirit, historic achievements, and commitment to mentorship make her an inspiration not only to aspiring pilots but to women across the continent. Captain Koki’s legacy continues to soar, leaving an indelible mark on the aviation landscape and paving the way for future generations of women in the field.