Esther Mbabazi was born in Burundi in 1988, to Rwandese parents. At age 5, she looked up and watched an aeroplane cut across the sky. She thought to herself, “I want to be the one flying that plane.”
At age 8, her father died in a plane crash when the aircraft he was travelling in overshot the runway while landing in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. The family moved back to Rwanda in 1996.
She trained at the East African Civil Aviation Academy in Uganda, before RwandAir sponsored her to continue her training in Miami, Florida.
At age 24, Esther became the first female Commercial Pilot in Rwanda. It shocked a lot of people because her father died in a plane crash when she was a young girl. But Esther refused to be deterred from her dream.
“You know what? I’m going to fly,” said Esther, “and that’s what motivated me my entire life, that idea I had as a young child.”
“A lot of leadership roles are taken by women in Rwanda, our government is really doing a good job training and supporting women in all aspects of life,” added Esther.