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Kenya’s first female hot air balloon pilot

Achieving Woman - By Derrick Oluoch | December 17th 2020 at 01:20:00 GMT +0300
Captain Joyce Beckwith (Courtesy)

Captain Joyce Beckwith, an hotelier by training, became the first Kenyan woman hot air balloon pilot in 2018 when she attained her commercial pilot license (CPL).

While her dream was to join the media industry as a TV personality, she doesn’t regret pursuing a course in hotel and tourism management as that is how she landed in Maasai Mara Game Reserve in 2007 as an intern.

Working in Maasai Mara, Joyce says she got fascinated by the hot air balloons that were always flying tourists at the game reserve.


Having been brought up in the city, it took her time to settle into the bush life at Maasai Mara and after making a few friends, she started joining her tour driver friends on game drives around the reserve. Even though she was using the moment to unwind on her days off, she fell in love with the bush, and soon she wanted to see everything from above.

Luckily she married into a ballooning family – her father-in-law and her husband are all balloonists, and her husband’s granddad was one too.

Whenever there was space in the basket for an extra person, she would join her husband for rides and hover over the vast savannah plains dotted with acacia trees, herds of gazelles, elephants, elands and giraffes.

When she had enough of flying as a passenger, she decided to challenge herself and train as a hot air balloon pilot.

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She joined Albuquerque Balloon Flight School in the USA for her four months training before returning to Maasai Mara where she got a job with Sun Africa’s Balloon Adventure at Keekorok Lodge.


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