Sky was the limit for pilot of i*l-fated KDF chopper

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024 08:00 | By
A portrait of Goerge Benson Kabui Magondu pilot of ill fated helicopter. PHOTO/Print
A portrait of Goerge Benson Kabui Magondu pilot of ill fated helicopter. PHOTO/Print

Four Days after a Kenya Defence Forces helicopter crashed claiming the life of military chief Gen Francis Ogolla and nine others, the family of Goerge Benson Kabui Magondu, the pilot flying the ill-fated Bell UH-1H Huey II helicopter has spoken out on the agony of losing their loved one.

It has since emerged that Major Magondu, a 30-year-old father of three, had the responsibility of flying the high and mighty both in the military and in the political spheres.

Born on September 21, 1993, the last-born son in his family attended Moi Forces Academy from nursery school to Form Four. He scored A in his KCSE exams.

According to his mother Mary Wambui, Magondu who was passionate about piloting since he was young and would later join the military after successfully going through cadets’ recruitment process.

“He was the only person picked to join the Air Force in the entire Nyeri District in that recruitment,” said Wambui.

After successfully pursuing his three-year combined military studies and flying course, Magondu enrolled for another piloting course in South Africa.

He would later be deployed at Laikipia Air Base before he was transferred to Moi Air Base in Nairobi where his diligence attracted the attention of his seniors.

Due to his passion, Magondu was at different times sponsored to pursue further training and refresher courses in many parts of the world, including in the United States and Jordan.

Twin boys

He has been the official pilot for the departed CDF Ogolla and has on many occasions been tasked with flying senior government officials among them Defense Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

At his age, he was able to rise from a second lieutenant, lieutenant, captain to a major.

His family told journalists that the father of three – among them twin boys – had ambitions to rise all the way to become the Chief of Defence Forces, a position he worked day and night to try and attain.

“George was a hardworking boy who would work day and night to achieve his dreams. He has been aspiring to one-day become the CDF and was leaving nothing to chance. It’s unfortunate that he died before achieving some of his goals,” said his mother.

Wambui revealed that the family received the shocking news about the crash at Elgeyo Marakwet County through his wife who is also a captain in the military.

According to her, the major suffered a deep cut in his forehead and had been airlifted for urgent medical care but could not survive.

Speaking at their home in Juja, distraught Wambui said no one can fill the gap that his son had left in the family.

“He has left a very huge gap that no one can fill. George was a responsible family man who would sacrifice all he had to support his children, wife and us. We have lost a hero and a man of his word,” said Wambui.

His Murera village neighbours and his mother in-law eulogised the major as a highly-spirited, hardworking, loving, social, caring and visionary military man.

“George was a good man, highly disciplined and very relatable. We still are yet to come to terms with the fact that he is gone. At his age, he had done so many things that most aged people have not achieved. He was an admiration to many and had set the standards to be followed by his fellow youths,” said Boniface Njue, a neighbour.

“He was loved by all as he would interact with anyone irrespective of their status in the society. Children are now asking the hard question of when they will see George again. This is a loss we have not been able to come to terms with,” Josephine Mwangi, another neighbour said.

“George has been a family man to his children and my daughter whom he married while in they were both in the military. We haven’t believed he is gone. The children are crying enquiring about his whereabouts and it has become very hard to explain to them that he is gone forever,” Maureen Akinyi Okello, his mother in-law said.

Magondu will be laid to rest at Karimeno area of Laikipia where his grandfather has settled.

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