At just 25, Robert Kateera has dared the world, taking a direction that many cannot.
Hungry, ambitious and willing to take on risks, the 25-year-old, who lives in Canada, ventured into piloting and has since accumulated about 830 hours of flight time under his belt.
Born and raised in Uganda, Kateera went to Uganda Martyrs Primary School, Mbarara between 1999 and 2006, before joining Taibah College High School, Bwebajja in 2010 to 2012.
In 2015 he relocated to Canada for his university education after doing some basic pilot training at Kajjansi Flying School.
“I used to dream about flying aeroplanes. Indeed I had that dream realised at Soroti Flying School. It is where I cut my flying teeth and if I was still in Uganda today, I think, I would be around Soroti Flying School or something of a sort,” he says.
Since childhood, Kateera had nursed the dream to become a pilot. In fact, when he relocated to Canada, he pursued further training and started his pilot career at Toronto Airways Canadian Flight Academy.
“My dream is to be a pilot in command and that can only be achieved by the hours you have accumulated. That is what I am working on now. Right now, it is not about the money but the hours because for one to take on bigger planes such as Bombardiers, what counts is flight hours,” he says.
Kateera has flown Cesna and Piper Seneca Aircraft planes around Canada but the disruption of Covid-19 has had its toll on a career that seemed to have taken off.
Before Covid-19, Kateera had hoped to make the 1,000 hours flight mark that would make him a first officer. But that has not been possible and the wait is still on.
Not for the faint hearted
The primary responsibility of a pilot is to control an aircraft. This carries a number of responsibilities performed for longer hours or even days.
The responsibilities, include checking weather patterns and confirming flight plans before departing as well as performing pre-flight inspections and checking flight logs before takeoff.
Therefore, Kateera say, it is a tiring responsibility and frightening.
“You are always on the move. You have to be alert all the time with exceptional thinking and quick decision making,” he says.
Kateera still desires to “discover other bigger skies, as he has always done since living school”.
“I like to phrase it as an invisible power. It is a feeling that will always stay with you. A feeling that no man that has never flown a plane can ever explain,” he says.
Taking the shine
Judging from the awards cabinet, Kateera has been a stellar performer, picking awards for his outstanding performance at the academy, where he attained a single engine instrument rating.
He was also among the nominees at the 2017 Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) Harry Jerome Awards.
The Harry Jerome Award is a fundraiser that supports the BBPA’s work of promoting the advancement of the Black-Canadian community, in the areas of education, economic and entrepreneurial development and young professional training and development.
“The awards are organised by blacks in Canada to honour and celebrate excellence among blacks. They are held annually, so, I was recognised as an achiever in aviation,” Kateera says.
According to Kateer, the awards are regarded as one of the most prestigious events in Canada for blacks.
“Recipients are selected from nominees recommended by business and professional colleagues, tutors and other opinion leaders in the black community,” he says, noting that to earn that recognition is not light in any way.
Kateera also says he was chosen because he had excelled during his commercial training with Toronto Airways Canadian Flight Academy.
“I was appreciated for standing out as a young African in my training. I was, as a result, given an offer to train with Air Canada after completing my Instrument Rating and Multi-engine rating.”
He has also rubbed shoulders with Canada’s political elite such as when he was presented with the award by Canadian Prime Minister Justin and Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau.
He is also a representative of the Obama Youth Councilman Initiative, which seeks to create opportunities for youth globally.
The initiative also seek to propel youth into participating in the open government community, which can be used to solve real and apparent problems.
“In Uganda, I have a special programme that seeks to bring youth together to discuss national issues and dialogue for a better Uganda, “he says.
Kateera is a spiritual man, who believes God has showered him with abundant mercy that have seen him touch heights he had never dreamt of.
God, he says, has used people like Samuel Kakande of Synagogue Church of all Nations in Kavule, Kampala to lift him by supporting him not only spiritually but paying for his studies in some of the world’s best institution.
Kateera has larger plans in life, key of which, is becoming a fully-fledged captain.
“I want to see myself on a left seat of a Gulf Stream 650. I know that is a big dream but it is achievable,” he says.