Nairobi's Wilson Airport has served commercial charter companies, flying schools and private pilots for over 70 years, but as the second busiest airfield in Africa it has evolved into a complex flying environment in which there is less room for light aircraft and training planes. As the hassle began to outweigh the fun, enthusiasts dreamed about utopia close-by where the air is pure, the commercial pilots don't wish you were out-of-the-way, the controllers don't control you and the fees are low. This dream of uncomplicated flight is now a reality at ORLY AIRPARK - THE NEW HOME OF SPORT AVIATION IN KENYA.
Orly is the brainchild of Johnny Baxendale and William Carr-Hartley, two recreational aircraft pilots who started in the late nineties to seek "a better option". They began the process of obtaining permission from the Regulators and by 2000 were joined by Harro Trempenau and Martin Ririani in looking at the feasibility of a private airfield where like-minded people could pursue their hobby of recreational flying in a country-club setting. They soon found a suitable piece of land 15 miles south of Wilson Airport, outside the Nairobi Control Zone and accessible via a tarmac road.
Within weeks some 20 enthusiasts came on board and "put their money where their mouth is". The rest is history. Land was bought, permissions sought from a myriad of authorities and the most important element - a runway - was built by 2003. The dream dubbed "Orly Airpark" had become a reality. Today, the enthusiastic group has over 40 shareholders, most of whom fly small aircraft or are otherwise active in aviation. They jointly own some 230 acres of land near Ollooloitikosh (hence the name "Orly"), with a flat plateau for the runway, an attractive valley with a seasonal stream and lush savannah vegetation.
Orly Airpark is now the most secure airport in Kenya, entirely surrounded by an electric fence. Seven houses and a fifteen hangars have been erected, as well as an Airport Lounge and a new Club House of the Aero Club of East Africa. Many challenges were overcome by the tenacious group, including construction of a 2 km access road, a bridge across the river, an internal distributor road, borehole, water distribution network and staff housing. Much remains to be done, but Orly Airpark is operational and open to the public. Future plans include additional houses, hangars, a second runway, mains connection to the electricity grid, a Flying School and an Aircraft Maintenance facility.