, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 14 – A sombre mood engulfed St Paul’s Catholic Church in Nairobi, when relatives and friends of the late Captain Barbara Wangechi gathered for her funeral service ahead of the burial.
Captain Wangechi was on the controls of the FlySax plane on the fateful evening of Tuesday last week when she lost communication with air traffic controllers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and crashed while flying from Kitale.
She died alongside First Officer Jean Mureithi and eight passengers when the plane crashed into the Kinangop side of the Aberdares, but it took two days for the wreckage to be sighted.
Family members fondly recounted how she had wanted to get six children, her love for food and forever smiling.
“This week, I haven’t been hungry, but I have been angry,” her sister Njoki Kamau said in her tribute.
“You taught me how to say I love you. I could never say those words before…if you come back, I promise to say them to you every single day.”
Her parents, through representatives, and siblings all showered the late pilot with praises.
To them, she “was our pride and apple to our eyes.’
But even as she was laid to rest at her parents’ home in Kiambu County, family members are still stuck with many unanswered questions as to the cause of the crash that is partly blamed on poor weather, even though aviation experts blame air traffic controllers at JKIA.
Representatives of FlySax management who attended the funeral service called for patience as investigators search for answers, heavily relying evidence collected from the crash site and the pilot’s last communication.
Investigators have since collected all relevant samples and exhibits for analysis, to establish what caused the accident.
According to reports, Captain Wangechi was not familiar with the Aberdare route begging questions whether operators at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport offered any assistance and if it was timely.
The pilot was flying at 11,000ft when she turned towards the Aberdare ranges.
The plane crashed at the Elephant Hill, which towered over the plane at 12,815ft.
Those who perished in the crash were passengers Ahmed Ali Abdi, Karaba Sailah Waweru Muiga, Khetia Kishani, Matakasakaraia Thamani, Matakatekei Paula, Ngugi George Kinyua, Pinuertorn Ronald and Wafula Robinson.
The plane’s pilot Barbara Wangechi and was assisted by First Officer, Jean Mureithi.