Kenyan-American brothers make history as the first pair of identical twins hired as pilots by Alaska Airlines

Two Kenyan-American brothers made aviation history, becoming the first identical twins to be hired as Alaska Airlines first officers. The brothers say they knew they wanted to fly since they were children in Africa, when they saw and sat in airplanes at the age of three.

According to an Alaska Air press release, Alex and Alan are believed to be the first identical twin pilots for the airline in the company’s roughly 90-year history.

The message was also shared on the company’s corporate Twitter account with the caption, “We feel like a Twinspirer! Alex and Alan are equally gifted First Officers… they are following their dream of flying together!”

Alex flies the longest with Alaska Air, flying out of LAX Airport in Los Angeles. Alan only recently joined after being hired after completing his simulator training. He will anchor from San Francisco.

When sharing why he decided to follow his brother’s example and work for Alaska Airlines, Alan said the company’s culture was appealing.

“When I worked as a tanker, the Alaskan staff – whether they were pilots or staff throughout operations – were always the nicest people who went out of their way to encourage me,” Alan shared.

Alex agreed that his surroundings are warm and recalled how people like Captain Rich, Anchorage base chief pilot, encouraged him as he went through his interview process to fly the planes.

He said, “Alaska is like family — you’re not a number.”

Both young men have loved aviation since they were children in their homeland.

They fondly remember when they were toddlers and how their father would take them to the planes every Sunday after church to see planes arriving and departing. They also recalled sometimes traveling with their mother on business trips – bored with everything but the opportunity to fly on the planes.

When the twins turned 13, their parents moved to the United States and opened a business in California. Once in the States, her love of aviation blossomed with the continued support of her parents.

Alan says their mother bought them Microsoft Flight Simulator to further support their dreams.

According to PC Gamers, Microsoft Flight Simulator is “an incredibly realistic game…simulates the entire planet Earth at full size, and that means you can fly between any two points in real time.” The program can fly from one destination to any other state , country or continent of the world and ask the player to pilot it as if he or she were piloting a real plane.

Gamerant says that the player experiences flying on the flight simulator with “incredible accuracy” and that the experience for aspiring pilots is “authentic”, “intense” and “immersive”, especially with the virtual reality update coming in the early 2020s was added years after the twins played on the game program.

“Once I started playing with the program, that was it. I knew I wanted to do it [fly] for a job,” Alan recalls.

The two learned the program as teenagers and also found time to climb into cockpits, fiddle with control knobs and envision themselves flying together for a commercial outfit in the future.

While that may not be possible with Alaska Airlines now, the two haven’t given up hope.

“We’ve never flown together professionally because we’ve always been on different planes,” said First Officer Alex. “The goal is for one of us to become captain and operate the same plane so we can fly together.”

On this day, the twins want a very special passenger on deck: their mother.

Alex said, “We need to get her on one of our flights.”

Being twins and flying as pilots is a rarity in commercial aviation, but so is flying as black men.

Black pilots make up 1.2 percent of all pilots in the air, according to a recent report by Zippia. That rate has fallen from 2.47 percent in 2017. In the past decade, there have only been two years when black pilots accounted for more than 2 percent of all pilots flying commercial vehicles.

With the hiring of Alan in 2022, the next stat rises a little further. Kenyan-American brothers make history as the first pair of identical twins hired as pilots by Alaska Airlines

James Brien

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