Betty Jerono has made history by being the first female pilot to earn the licence to pilot a gyrocopter.
A gyrocopter is a small aircraft that looks like a mix of a helicopter and an airplane. It flies using a rotor on top, but moves forward with an engine-powered propeller. Due to its agility and lightness, it is mainly used in law enforcement activities.
Jerono flies the plane for the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) where is an officer. She is KWS’ first female pilot.
Betty Jerono (right) and a fellow KWS officer (left).
In a statement, KWS celebrated the young woman for her exceptional achievements.
“Meet Betty Jerono, a true pioneer and trailblazer! Betty is the first woman in Kenya to hold a Gyrocopter pilot’s license,” KWS’s statement read in parts.
Betty earned her licence in June 2023, after an intensive 3-month training program at Highland Aviation in Scotland.
“Well done to Betty who completed her First Solo Flight with us on 14th June 2023,” Highland Aviation wrote on their website.
However, that was not her debut in aviation. She joined KWS in 2020 as a trainee pilot where she has been ever since.
Betty uses her unique gyroplane to assist in routine monitoring, surveillance, and the management of the country’s wildlife.
Prior to joining KWS, she was a pilot at Wilson Airport for one year and three months.
Additionally, She graduated from Moi University in 2018 with a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Science.
Betty’s new achievement has secured her a spot among the ranks of trailblazing Kenyan women such as Elizabeth Marami who was Kenya’s first marine pilot.
Notably, KWS is the only institution in the country licensed by Kenya Civil Aviation to maintain aircraft from both public and private sector.
The parastatal has an airwing section, based at Wilson Airport, with over 40 pilots to provide air support services to wildlife management across the country.
It boasts of a fleet of over 15 aircrafts and four hangars in Meru, Kamboyo in Tsavo West National Park, Mweiga in Aberdares, Nyeri and Wilson airport.
KWS pilots have a wide array of specialized skills including veterinary support services for research and translocation purposes, animal tracking, wildlife census, firefighting, rescue work, and transportation of rations and supplies, including ammunition.
Since the flyers are on always on standby to fly anywhere across all the conservancies, they have to be well versed in the terrain as well as Kenya’s wildlife to be able to navigate incase of emergencies or difficult weather conditions.
A photo collage of a gyroplane