Douglas Chrispine, 35

Emirates Airlines


After 10,000 flight hours, Douglas is arguably one of the most experienced Kenyan pilots. Douglas, 35, is a flight instructor at Emirates Airlines where he has worked for two years now. He became a pilot at 27.

Born in Nakuru, he attended Mangu High School where his passion for aviation was awakened.

After his training, he joined Kenya Airways, where he would accumulate 3,000 flight hours in nine years.

“In 2015, I made a leap of faith and joined Emirates Airlines. I became a captain at the airline in 2019,” he talks of his steep career incline.

"I don’t want to be remembered for having been a pilot. Rather, for shaping people’s lives and making it better."

On what makes him tick, Douglas notes that teamwork, mutual respect, adaptability and resilience have been at the heart of his growth. He admits, however, that flying passengers from one end of the world to the other is a complex job that is replete with dynamics.

“The environment could change abruptly due to delays, aircraft technical issues, or a dispute involving a passenger. You must be in the same mind-set with your team to respond to these issues professionally,” he says.

The job has come with a basketful of lessons too. “There’s a Kenyan way of doing things. But working for Emirates and travelling to far and wide spaces has been an eye-opener. Dubai city has more than eight million people, mostly expatriates. By interacting with these nationalities, I’ve embraced sociocultural differences, which has shaped my work ethics,” he says.

As an instructor, Douglas has trained more than 100 other pilots and first officers so far. He hopes to go into “management flying” and, possibly, become a chief pilot by 45.

To this end, he has enrolled in an online course to study international relations and aviation management. “It’s a demanding but satisfying job. It fills me with joy when my former trainees acknowledge how I shaped their career.”

“I don’t want to be remembered for having been a pilot. Rather, for shaping people’s lives and making it better.”

A father of five-year-old daughter, Malkia, he notes that parenthood has given him a purpose in life. “I come to Kenya every month to spend time with her.”

-James Kahongeh