My Story: From Milk Man to Pilot, Story of Captain Kiplagat Kemboi

This article was first published on Nandi News Center

The story of Cpt. Kemboi is inspirational, one full of ups and downs. The Kenya police pilot spoke to Australian based Kenyan, Alfred Koech-Sergent who hosts a popular Facebook podcast.

Captain Kemboi came from quite a humble background. Born and raised in Mombwo village, Tinderet Constituency, Nandi County, the police pilot said that his was a struggle from earlier in his childhood days.

He schooled at a local primary school, he excelled in his primary school studies. Then came the struggle to join high school.

He had to stay home for over eight months due to lack of school fees to see him join his school of choice. There was a ray of hope when a headmaster of Cheptonon high school approached his dad with an offer.

“A local headteacher approached my dad with an offer to join his school. He only had one request; that I milk the school cows in return for my admission into the institution.” Said Kemboi.

“I took the offer.” He added.

He narrated how his aunt gave him her shoes since his father could not afford to get him a pair.

“My aunt offered me a pair of her shoes. Notwithstanding the fact that they were female shoes, they were my first pair and I was grateful for it.


Capt. Kemboi joined school in August, several months after his peers had already began their learning. 

He became the school’s milk-man as part of his agreement with the head of the school. He would milk the cows and sell the milk on behalf of the school.

He said that it was during his interactions with the neighbouring Kisumu County residents that he learnt of their local dialect. 

“As a salesman, I had to quickly familiarise myself with the local language of my customers who were neighbouring our Nandi County. I quickly learnt to speak the Luo dialect as they were my customers.” He said amid laughter.


Despite all his tribulations, Captain Kemboi never lost hope. He was focused on his education. When he sat his kenya Certificate of Secondary Education in the year 2006, he excelled and got a B+ which was quite an achievement under the circumstances.

Due to the one year break candidates had to take before joining University, the young ambitious Kemboi relocated from home to join a training camp in Mosoriot, Nandi County. He says this training came in handy while at the university.

Captain Kemboi joined Kenyatta University to pursue a Bachelor’s of Education In Mathematics and Geography, an option which he said he chose after failing to get the requisite points that would have allowed him pursue his dream course.

He said that he was active in sports while at the university which gave him opportunity to tour various countries in the region. 


“In April 2011, I was to start my teaching practice at Kapsabet boys. On 12th April, I had travelled home to prepare the logistics on where I would be staying during the teaching practise.” He said.

“I had to go home to see my parents, as I was headed there, I realised that the police were conducting a recruitment on the same day in my area. As I had not had my routine training, I decided to join them so as to warm up. I ran they were impressed, I was recruited!” He narrated.

“My family was not amused by the abrupt decision to join the police service. During those days, the police service was not regarded as a model career.” Said Kemboi.

He stated that he had to convince his parents that he would take care of his youngest sister who was still in primary school for them to agree that he joins the service.

He eventually joined the Kiganjo training school in Nyeri county for an initial training course that took him 15 months.

He was sure that he would continue with his education once he was done with the training.

However, that was not the case. When he graduated from the college, he was posted to Wajir County, at a far flung police station. This was at the height of increased terrorist activity at the border counties.

“With the posting, I could no longer continue with my studies at Kenyatta university or continue with my athletics training. That almost broke my parents hearts” He said.

He finally reported to his new work station in Wajir. He never gave up hope. 

“Each morning, I would pick my rifle and head out for a jog.” Said kemboi.

It was during one of his training sessions that he met with his boss who told him to meet him at his office.

“I was scared that maybe he wanted to fire me” he said.

His boss placed a call to the county headquaters, Garissa requesting that Kemboi be transferred to the sports section as he was passionate about athletics.


As he was still in Wajir, the police airwing was looking to recruit young trainee pilots into the unit. He had all the qualifications being sought by the airwing. However, he never got to apply for the spot as the advert never reached him.

Luckily, an officer at vigilance had seen his file and had fowarded his name to the recruiting panel.

While in Eldoret, he received a phone call informing him that he had been shortlisted for an interview as a pilot in the police airwing. He was excited about the news.

He attended the interview and passed as the questions were on Mathematics and Geography subjects he was quite familiar with.

He went to South Africa in 2016 where he trained as a pilot. He excelled, came back to Kenya and was later on sent for advanced training in Philadelphia,  USA. 

Captain Kemboi has had a fruitful career at the National Police Service. He says that the job has given him satisfaction owing to the passion he has for it. 

“I always wanted to be a pilot, however, due to the background I came from, it almost seemed impossible. I mean, to become a pilot, one has to part with almost ksh. 20Million, here I was, a young man who couldn’t afford a decent pair of shoes!” He stated.


In June 2020, Captain Kemboi crash landed in Meru while on his way to Isiolo. This was attributed to the bad weather that was experienced that day. He said that he was glad no one got any major injuries. 

“It was an accident just like any other.” He said.


Captain Kemboi advised young men and women to never give up in life. He stated that for one to succeed, there was need for working hard especially in school, have trust in God and most importantly taking risks.

“In a world where you can lose everything, don’t lose hope.” Said Kemboi as he ended the interview.



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