The sky was the limit, literally, for Yared Mulegeta when the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302 he was captaining crashed, killing all the 157 people on board.
Yared’s family, reeling from the excruciating pain of his untimely demise, described him as “ferociously ambitious, stellar and brilliant”.
He became senior captain of the Ethiopian airlines at a young age of 29. True to his love for the job, Yared met his end in the line of duty.
His cousin Zainab Daham yesterday said, “Yared’s brilliance and huge ambitions was clearly shown by the fact that at 29, he had already grown to the rank of senior captain.”
A family statement shared with Star added, “With his impeccable record as a pilot, he was one of the youngest in Ethiopian Airlines history to captain a Boeing 737.”
Yared was born to parents of mixed nationalities. His father, Getachew Tessema, is an Ethiopian and mother, Rayan Shapi, Kenyan. Both are retired dentists.
Yared had accomplished a lot within his short life. For example, he had 8,000 hours of flight time.
“As a confident captain, his seniority at Ethiopian Airlines comes with an accomplished record of 8,000 hours flight time,” the statement said. “We are incredibly proud of his achievements.”
The young pilot went to Allen Grove School in Nairobi for primary education and then in Oshwal, Nairobi, for his secondary education. He proceeded to the prestigious Ethiopian Aviation Academy to pursue his childhood dream.
“Yared always wanted to be a pilot. He was a go-getter — achieving anything he set his eyes on. We have lost one bright star, which was only getting brighter by day,” Daham said.
He graduated from the academy in 2010 and was lucky to immediately take up a job at Ethiopian Airlines, where he worked until the last Sunday. This means Yared, who has left only one sibling, worked with the airline for nine years.
Daham said their family has a sentimental attachment with Kenya.
“Some journalists keep saying Yared was Ethiopian. This is not true. Kenya is home to him and his family. This is where he stayed,” she said, adding his cousin loved Kenya and would only be in Ethiopia for work.
She said Yared’s family lives in Spring Valley while the rest of the larger family, including herself, live in Mombasa, where prayers for the departed were held yesterday.
“Funeral prayers, Salat al-Gha’ib (absentee funeral prayer) for our beloved late captain Yared of #ET302Crash will be held today (yesterday) in Mombasa, Masjid Baluch after Maghreb prayers. May Allah grant him the highest level of Jannah, Ameen!” she had earlier posted on Twitter.
The young pilot was a devout Muslim.