Seasoned aviator 'Kinandu' flies away to eternity

May the jets, turbo props, piston engines and helicopters escort you - Michael Sidney Mutuku to the highest altitude. On August 22 this year, seasoned aviator Michael Sidney Mutuku took a flight to his eternal resting place. As he waved us farewell at 2130hrs at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at The Nairobi Hospital, fellow aviators were left crestfallen. They were grudgingly waving back, laden with fond memories and nostalgic recollections of their “Kinandu,” a piggy bank of aviation knowledge. The testament to this reservoir was given by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) Chief Aviation Security (AVSEC) Inspector Hellen Makau. In her recollection, Mike, as he was fondly called, had recently visited her office seeking validation to attend the International Civil Aviation (ICAO) National Quality Control workshop scheduled for October 3, 2022 at the East Africa School of Aviation (EASA). “I guided him on what to do so that KCAA can endorse his nomination form before forwarding it to ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation),” recalled Ms Makau. She further recounted that on receiving his application form and CV, the ICAO office called her. It not only applauded Mike’s experience and knowledge in AVSEC (aviation security) but also vouched for him to be optimally utilised as an instructor at EASA and other KCAA-certified aviation security training centres in delivering AVSEC courses. “I am so shocked he has left before I could accomplish the assignment I was given by ICAO,” she regretted. Mr John Kandere, a seasoned AVSEC instructor at EASA, eulogised Mike as a humble, down-to-earth person with a priestly posture. Mr Kandere said Mike was not only an expert in human factors and quality management systems (QMS) but also developed a special interest in aviation security where he rose to the level of a national AVSEC instructor certified by KCAA. STRANGE EMAIL ADDRESS During his interaction with Mike, a curious Kendere discovered that he had a strange email address, which started with the word “kinandu,” totally unrelated to his name. According to Alice Musau, a Kamba linguistic expert, kinandu is a Kamba word that loosely translates to a piggy bank, a container for the safe keeping of treasures in a household. And indeed, Mike was kinandu in aviation matters, tirelessly seeking and storing knowledge. Mr Stephen Gichura, another seasoned AVSEC practitioner recounts: “When l met him some years back, his one side of the coin was safety. He fought hard to ensure he attained the other side of the coin - security.” Beatrice Ngetich, an AVSEC instructor, speaking on behalf of Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), said she first met Mike in 2008 at Moi International Airport when KAA was transiting to ISO standards. ISO CONSULTANT Mike was one of the consultants hired by KAA to help the authority attain ISO 9001:2000 certification. “Because of his dedication and patience, I became an ISO champion and auditor,” said Beatrice. She lauded Mike as a mentor and a qualified trainer in ISO and AVSEC. “I will surely miss him, his soft voice, excellent command of the English language, his guidance and of course his smile. He was an asset in aviation,” she eulogised him. Boniface Nyongesa, a former colleague of Mike at Kenya Airways (KQ) said: “I have known Mike as a focused and result-oriented individual. I have been with him through several instructor sessions and would not tell that he was not from the mainstream AVSEC background.” MAN OF STRONG HEART “It is unfortunate that this has happened just a few years after his dear wife took the same flight,” added Mr Kandere for his part. He remembers Mike as a man of “a strong heart,” because of ho he received the sad news about the demise of his wife, the late Catherine Mutuku on July 17, 2019, during the very first day of the basic airport security course. “He was so composed as he requested to defer his studies to the following year. As his instructor, I have lost a friend and an alumnus of our great institution, EASA.’’ EARLY LIFE Born on July 29, 1965 in Machakos County to the late Rogers Sofali Mwambaji and Constance Katunge Mutua, Mike attended St Mary’s Boys Primary School in Machakos and later St Patrick’s Primary School in Buru Buru, Nairobi, before joining Aquinas Secondary School for his O-level’s. He did his A-levels at Eastleigh High School and later obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business Administration from the United States International University (USIU-Africa). He worked at KQ for years, rising to the rank of inflight performance manager before leaving for Sandpiper Aviation at Wilson Airport where he was working as the head of quality until his demise. The late Mutuku was laid to rest on September 1 at Langata Cemetery. He is survived by his children, Charles Sofali, Natalie Katunge and Tara Wanjiku. Fly well our Kinandu.