Alex and Alan are not your ordinary pilots. They are identical twin brothers who share a passion for aviation since they were three years old. They are also believed to be the first set of identical twin pilots at Alaska Airlines, one of the largest airlines in the United States.
The brothers were born and raised in Kenya, where they developed their love for flying by going plane spotting with their dad every Sunday after church, and accompanying their mom on every business trip. They moved to California when they were 13 years old and continued to pursue their dream of becoming pilots.
They both enrolled in flight school and worked as fuelers at different airports to gain experience and save money for their training. They also played with Microsoft Flight Simulator, a program that simulates flying a real aircraft. “After I started playing with the program, that was it. I knew I wanted to do that [fly] for a job,” said Alan.
Alex was the first to join Alaska Airlines as a first officer in 2020, after working for a regional airline for four years. He was impressed by the company’s culture and people, who were always supportive and encouraging. He also liked the variety of destinations and aircrafts that Alaska Airlines offered.
Alan followed his brother’s footsteps and joined Alaska Airlines in 2022, shortly after finishing his simulator training. He will be based in San Francisco, while Alex flies out of Los Angeles. Alan said he was drawn to Alaska Airlines by the same reasons as his brother, as well as the opportunity to work with him someday.
The brothers have never flown together professionally because they have always been on different aircrafts, but they hope to change that in the future. “The goal is to have one of us upgrade to captain and be operating the same aircraft so we can fly together,” said Alex.
They also have another goal: to fly with their mom, who has never flown with one of her sons. She was instrumental in fostering their love of aviation and supporting their career choices. “We have to get her on one of our flights,” said Alex.
Alex and Alan are an inspiration to many aspiring pilots, especially those from Kenya and Africa. They have overcome many challenges and achieved their dreams through hard work, dedication and perseverance. They are also a testament to the diversity and excellence of Alaska Airlines, which employs more than 6,000 pilots from different backgrounds and experiences.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 124,000 airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers in the country in 2020, but only 3% were Black or African American. The International Society of Women Airline Pilots estimates that there are about 8,600 female airline pilots worldwide, representing 5.8% of the total pilot population.
Alex and Alan are proud of their Kenyan heritage and identity, and they hope to inspire more people from their community to pursue aviation as a career. They also want to give back to their country by supporting aviation education and training programs for young Kenyans.
“We are very grateful for the opportunities we have had in the U.S., but we also love our home country and we want to see it grow and prosper,” said Alan.
In the news in Kenya, Captain Koki Mutungi became Kenya’s first female Dreamliner pilot. She was born with a passion for flying, inspired by her parents who worked in the aviation industry. She defied the odds and pursued her dream of becoming a pilot in a male-dominated field. She made history as the first female pilot in Kenya, and later as the first female captain of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Africa. She is Irene Koki Mutungi, a trailblazer and a role model for women in aviation.
Koki Mutungi’s story began in 1976, when she was born to a Kenyan father who was a commercial pilot with Kenya Airways, and a mother who was an air hostess. She grew up listening to stories of adventure in the sky, and developed a fascination with airplanes and flying. She attended Moi Girls School Nairobi, where she excelled academically. After graduating high school in 1992, at the age of 17, she enrolled in flight school at Nairobi’s Wilson Airport, where she obtained her Private Pilot’s License. She then continued her pilot education in Oklahoma City in the United States, where she was awarded the Commercial Pilot’s License by the Federal Aviation Administration. Keep reading about Captain Koki here.