Meet Kenya’s First Pilot To Serve In The US Air Force – Fiona Akoth

First Lieutenant Fiona Akoth is among the best African women in the US military.

In a post shared by the Colombia Air Force Academy in 2017, Akoth was featured as a student pursuing studies to become an airforce pilot.

The academy indicated that Akoth was born and raised in Kenya, where she spent her younger years on the shores of Lake Victoria, Kisumu County before she moved to Texas, US at 13, to attend school.

“I was well engrained in the roots back in Kenya. I had to leave a familiar country with a familiar group of friends when I was just becoming a teenager looking for a solid foundation, and that was challenging,” she recalled her move.

First Lt. Fiona Akoth, 14th Student Squadron Student Pilot, holds a ceramic Kenyan decoration June 16, 2017, at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.
First Lieutenant Fiona Akoth, 14th Student Squadron Student Pilot, with a ceramic Kenyan decoration on June 16, 2017, at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.

She stated that after her high school studies, she found it hard to gain entrance into colleges due to her parent’s lack of money, so she applied for numerous scholarships.

It was at these moments of frantic searches that she stumbled upon several colleges including the US Naval Academy before she finally settled for the Airforce Academy.

The reason for her choice, she stated, was because she wanted to give back to the society that had raised her and also to challenge herself and test the limits.

Another reason, she stated, was that she grew up in a home that was close to the airport, where she and her friends would watch planes flying by every day, a matter that she insisted fuelled the desire to fly.

“It has been my destiny to become a pilot. My grandfather always told me to never give up on my dream and now here I am,” she narrated.

Akoth was chosen to be part of the Language Enabled Airman Program (LEAP), which allows airforce personnel who can speak another language fluently to translate and help build relations with local populations near military instillations because she is fluent in Swahili.

As of 2017, Akoth was training to be an Air Force pilot at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, after she had graduated from the US Airforce Academy.

In the US Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force, a first lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer. It is just above the rank of second lieutenant and just below the rank of captain.

First Lt. Fiona Akoth, 14th Student Squadron Student Pilot, is dressed in her traditional Kenyan attire June 26, 2017, at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. PHOTO Courtesy U.S. Air Force
First Lieutenant Fiona Akoth, 14th Student Squadron student pilot, is dressed in traditional Kenyan attire on June 26, 2017, at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Photo Courtesy US Air Force
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