Former world leader and American President Theodero Roosevelt described a “Man in the Arena” as one “who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
It is the same correlation that describes a Pilot’s 4 decade journey, sitting high above the Potomac, in the shadows of the founding fathers and mothers, seeing more than an average man sees.
This is the story of Charles Karabarinde, an accomplished family man who retires from active aviation services, serving six airline companies for forty years.
In 1978, a young Karabarinde, who had just left Kololo high school enrolled at the East African Civil Aviation Academy commonly known as the Soroti flying school where he graduated as a commercial pilot in 1981.
The career took him to becoming a great captain moving around continents diligently transcending into a loyal, resilient and a safe pilot, flying Cessna C172 and C310 aircrafts, the Fokker Friendship F27, Boeing B707, McDonnel Douglas DC10, DC9 and MD80 and the Bombardier CRJ 100/200/900/1000 series.
His experience, flying up to 21,600 hours, in the skies of vast continents on the globe, coming with fascinating and tribulation tales saw Karabarinde between 1993 to 1995 hold memories, flying Zimbabwean former President Robert Mugabe.
“When you train, apply those skills while operating, definitely, the journey will be smooth. It is a great experience to share. I only applied and later on chosen to fly the President,” He says.
A proud former President of the Uganda Professional Pilots Association says, forty years of experience come with challenges. “When you are young, you enjoy flying. But after getting a family, everyone needs you home.” He reiterates.
He recounts his worst experience flying the Das Air Cargo Boeing between 1998 and 2008 from Europe to Nigeria.
“We were landing in southern France. The hydraulics couldn’t operate and we turned to the manual system. Some of the gears couldn’t operate but based on our experience, we managed to land as Flight engineers switched on the pumps.” “It is my worst experience,” Karabarinde recounts.
But remarks a man who was the there at the collapse of the Uganda Airlines, and returns home from Arik Air – Nigeria in 2019? As the bosses moved towards reviving the defunct Uganda airlines, Karabarinde and a host of other pilots returned to be part of the team that could help the airlines thrive.
He leaves behind a team of 24 young and experienced Pilots manning the four Bombardier CRJ 900 series purchased by the company during the revival of the airline. He is confident that the current team is determined to see the airline thrive.
Cornwell Muleya, the Chief Executive of Uganda Airlines Company says that it is with gratitude that the Pilot retires and, “we look forward to his participation in the further growth of the airline. We are pleased that at the tail end of his career he has come back home at Uganda airlines.”
Muleya says that as Karabarinde becomes the second Pilot to retire, setting off the skies not more than sixty days ago.
Captain Lukman Nduusa, the Director Flight operations and head of Pilots at the Uganda airlines company says the company has already initiated a process that will see the company finds replacements for the experienced flight operators.
But as his flying career comes to an end, Karabarinde leaves behind a wealth of experience for if tapped into would add value to the already growing aviation industry that Uganda holds.
He retires to spend a lot more time with his wife Judith Karabarinde and children.
Airlines he worked for:
Uganda Airlines (Defunct): 1982 to 1990
Air Zimbabwe Corporation: 1990 to 1995
Das Air Cargo: 1998 to 2008
Air Uganda: 2008 to 2013
Arik Air Nigeria: 2015 to 2019
Uganda Airlines: 2019 to date.
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