At the age of 29, Yared Getachew, a pilot adopted in Ethiopia but born in Kenya had flown for more than 8,000 hours of flight time and some 1,500 as the pilot in command, as he charted his path in aviation.
But, March 10 was end of his life and that of 156 others, who were on the ill-fated Ethiopian Airlines flight, ET 302 that crashed near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He worked for Ethiopian Airlines since July 2010 and during the flight that crashed, he was with another pilot, first officer Ahmednur Mohammed who had flown 200 hours. Citizens from 35 countries were killed in the crash.
Airline’s Group CEO Tewolde Gebre-Mariam said Getachew was a senior pilot. The aircraft he was flying until the time of crash was four-month old Boeing 737 MAX-8 jet. Captain Getachew, described by the Ethiopian Airlines as a very accomplished and confident pilot with an impeccable record, was in command of the plane. He became a captain in November 2017, on the Boeing 737-800.
Reading from pilot’s last words, it appears he had high hopes that he would land in Nairobi safely after taking off from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa.
His confidence that fateful morning was confirmed by his mother, Dr Rayan Shapi, whom he last spoke to before taking off.
“He wrote to me he was coming to Nairobi and that he had forgotten his phone, but that we would talk once he got here,” his Dr Shapi told NMG in an interview in Nairobi.
With 10 years of experience as a pilot, Getachew is being remembered not only as an accomplished flyer but also a “special child.” He was not married but was engaged.
Speaking to Voice of America’s Amharic service, Getachew’s father, Dr Tesema, a surgeon, described his late son as an “A” student, a swimmer so strong that classmates nicknamed him “Mr Fish”.
“He was hard working and respected everyone, old or young,” Getachew said. “People loved him and respected him, and he was a blessing in so many ways. He was very close to me,” he said on VOA.
He says that his son had excelled in school and returned to Ethiopia for college. He became a pilot for the largest airline in Africa after completing additional training in the United States.
He studied at Oshwal High School in Nairobi but later in his education ladder, his father says, “I convinced him to go to Ethiopia for education instead of South Africa. I brought him here. I have other children, but I thought he would bring change to Ethiopia,” Dr Tesema said. “I just hope that they would have one stone to commemorate him, for history or for the next generation,” Dr Tesema said.
“Not only for him, but everybody whose life was lost. Something in their memory where their names are carved. That’s my only wish. I lost a son whom I loved,” he added.
“My brain is numb,” he added. “There isn’t anybody in the family that could repress how good he is. He was a special generation, a special being,” said Dr Tesema.
The fifth of six children Getachew was born in Kenya in 1989. His mother is Kenyan doctor hailing from Mombasa. His father, Dr Tessema, originally came from Ethiopia. The family resides in Spring Valley, Nairobi.