The Kampala Aero Club and Flight Training Centre, based at the Kajjansi Airfield and Ugandas leading domestic charter airline, is turning 15 years, after 1 ½ decades of accident free operations across East Africa. Founded by Captains Jeremy McKelvie and Russell Barnes in 1997, KAFTC has grown in leaps and bounds and moved from the initial ka container single room office to their current operational centre and maintenance base, which has been purpose built and is living proof how aviation in Uganda has evolved over the past 15 years.
The company has also been at the forefront in participating in changes to air service regulations and is engaged in regular dialogue with the CAA, representing the aviation sector and developing a rapport with the regulatory staff. Corporate social responsibility too ranks high with support for the nearby Sure Prospects Nursery and Primary School from where children even had the opportunity to take to the skies, an experience they will surely never forget.
Today KAFTC operates a fleet of single engined, twin engined and rotary aircraft, since the acquisition of a helicopter last year and maintains them all in their own hangar at the Kajjansi field, of course duly licensed by the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, as a flight training center, as a charter airline and as maintenance and repair organization. On the books of KAFTC, as this article goes to press, are 3 Cessna 172, 2 Cessna 206, 2 Cessna 208 aka Caravan, 1 Cessna 210, 1 BN2 Islander, 1 DHC-6 Twin Otter, 1 Great Lakes and 1 Bell 206 Helicopter. Add to that Capt. Howard Davenports personal Jungmeister and it makes for an impressive display of birds when visiting their base at the Kajjansi field.
Notable, and worth mentioning separate, is THE classic bi plane of Great Lakes make, meticulously maintained and able to fly acrobatics over Kajjansi or elsewhere or just to a sightseeing flight in the way the first pilots experienced the skies, wind in the face in an open cockpit, wearing the helmet and goggles just like it was a hundred years ago, when those daring sky devils took their planes up.
(The Great Lakes above Lake Victoria with yours truly in the front seat / Picture courtesy of Capt. Russell Barnes)
With this new bird the Aeroclub is now able to offer thrilling rides with loops, 8s, rolls, inverted flight and more, and their latest addition to the aircraft is a battery of video cameras capturing the moment when at the top of the loop gravity for a moment turns to zero before the G-forces then set in again when descending.
The Aeroclub is of course also a regular meeting place for aviation buffs, members and spectators who have access to a swimming pool from where aircraft taking off and landing can be seen with ease, and a fully equipped little restaurant serving snacks and drinks throughout the day. In particular over the weekends are members often seen with their families, bringing their adult love for flying closer to their own children, creating the next generation of aviators in Uganda.
(Part of the leisure facilities for Aeroclub members with the new offices behind)
In early February will the Aeroclub hold a celebration of their 15 years in the skies, with some daring aerial displays including Capt. Howards signature move, a ribbon cut, the first solo flight of an aspiring pilot, a formation fly past, a flour bombing contest aimed to raise funds for the Sure Hope School and various other airborne surprises including a full acrobatic display by Capt. Howard. Congratulations to all the fly boys and fly girls at KAFTC and all their staff on the occasion of turning 15 adolescent in human age but well matured as aviation in Uganda goes.