BLOG: Aviation Stories

The future is wide open for pilots, the sky is literally the limit to this career path. This is especially true for Arab pilots because the aviation industry is taking huge leaps in the Middle East. And as the aviation sector in the region grows, the need for qualified pilots grows. And the sector is expected to grow rapidly in the upcoming years. Laying the foundation for this bright future, some highly qualified Arab pilots have been working their way in the sector for years and years, making it easier for others to join. Let’s take a look at some successful Arab pilots and hear their inspirational stories, one way or another these pilots have accomplished what we all dream of, a successful career in their chosen field. Wesam Sameer Al-Najjar The youngest Saudi to fly the A380, Wesam has flown the A318, A319, A320, A330, and A330 Cargo aircraft, among others. Before his 29th birthday, Al-Najjar had already flown to more than 100 countries and spent around 4000 hours in the cockpit. One of 10 children, Al-Najjar has lost both his father and mother early, his beloved uncle has been his first supporter in achieving all his dreams. Al-Najjar grew up in Madinah, in the western region of Saudi Arabia. He decided to become a pilot in his late teens because he found it to be the perfect job. He started to pursue his dream right after graduating from high school. Nevin Darwish The first female pilot to fly the world’s biggest commercial plane, the Egyptian pilot flew the Airbus 380 from Dubai to Vienna, and back.  The captain soared through the skies, leading an all-female crew on the special occasion of International Women’s Day.  Emirates Airlines announced the event by posting a 2-minute long video on its YouTube channel, showing a glimpse of the glorious flight. In the video, Captain Darwish is accompanied by Emirati Captain Alia AlMuhairi. The event is a huge milestone and motivates younger women to pursue their dreams and thrive in glory. Mariam Al-Mansouri The first female fighter pilot of the United Arab Emirates. Flying an F-16 Fighting Falcon, al-Mansouri led UAE mission airstrikes against ISIS. She was one of the first women to join the United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF). In an interview with CNN, Al-Mansouri said she’s dreamt of becoming a pilot since high school, but she had to wait until women were allowed to join the airforce. Before overcoming gender stereotypes, Al-Mansouri earned an undergraduate degree in English literature from United Arab Emirates University and worked for the army general staff in other categories. One of 8 children, Al-Mansouri said her family supported her dream career. Princess Basmah Bani Ahmad  The Princess is the second wife of Prince Hamzah Bin Hussein of Jordan. Living most of her childhood in Canada, her royal highness left her studies in Mathematics at the University of Western Ontario to take the hobby of aviation.  Her royal highness moved back to Jordan in 2005, where her highness trained with The Middle East Aviation Academy in Amman to obtain a flight instructor license.  Her highness was Jordan’s first female to earn a basic aerobatics certificate. Her highness met Prince Hamzah at Dubai Air Show in November 2011. Sheikha Mozah bint Saeed bin Rashid Sheikha Mozah is the first royal from Al Maktoum family to fly a commercial plane. She is the beloved niece of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai. Sheikha Mozah passed the commercial test from CAE in April 2016. She has been documenting some of her work by posting pictures on her Instagram account, wearing the pilot uniform. She also has a picture with the Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed bin Rashid. She was featured in Vogue Arabia’s March 2018 issue. Sheikha Mozah is very proud of her achievements, as she should be, breaking social norms for women in royal families.   Karim Nafatni One of the most famous Arab pilots, the French-Tunisian captain pilot lives in the United Arab Emirates. At the age of 19, Nafatni was the youngest co-pilot on an A320 in Tunisia.  Working as a pilot has been his dream as a child, and now he’s living the dream and more. Nafatni found his hobby of photography when he bought his first camera, and he fell in love with architecture photography. That was when he realized that he could take gorgeous shots from the cockpit.  Stating that he only started to take photography seriously in 2010, Nafatni won the Best Architecture Shot for the 2013 award on the popular photography and photo-sharing website 500px. His work went viral all over the internet. He was mentioned by the UK’s Daily Mail, which called his work “a bid to document his daily routine through a series of otherworldly images that look more like oil paintings than photographs and reveal exactly what it is like for pilots at 35,000 feet.” Nafatni was also the first to create the genre of photography “called high-flying”. Alia AlMuhairi Emirates Airlines’ First Officer since 2012, Emirati Alia AlMuhairi has been shining ever since the Emirates Airlines’ ad campaign showed her co-piloting the first all-female crew Airbus A380 on International Women’s Day.  In an interview with Al Arabiya, AlMuhairi said that she received support from her family and community, but that wasn’t always the case, “At first, my mother was scared for me and telling me it would be difficult to travel alone and such. There were also others in my society who said that customs and traditions forbade women from such fields. But at the end I gained all their support,” she said.  And in the same interview, Muhairi told Al Arabiya “Thankfully my country, the United Arab Emirates, opened up opportunities for women to enter this field. Aviation is obviously dominated by men so I thought why can’t I, as a woman, try out for the job. I’m no less than my male counterparts”. Muhairi says that she aspires to, one day, become an aviation trainer to help the next generation of young pilots. To learn more about famous pilots see also: Women in the cockpit: Famous female pilots in history

Women in the cockpit: Famous female pilots in history

Aviation used to be a male-dominated field, aka a man's job, but some amazing women through history decided to choose the road less taken and learn how to fly. These early female pilots were the pioneers who opened the gates for the upcoming generations. Now it is almost natural to find women in the cockpit. Some of those names are so famous that you must have heard of them before, and some are less known, but they are all equally strong and impressive. So let’s take a look at some of the most distinguished female pilots. Raymonde de Laroche [caption id="attachment_2696" align="alignnone" width="949"] Raymonde de Laroche[/caption] Born in 1882, in Paris, Raymonde de Laroche was the first woman to get a pilot license. Elise Raymonde Deroche was an actress, but watching the demonstration flights by the Wright brothers in 1908  in Paris, as well as meeting various aviators, ignited a passion towards the field, and she started to dream about flying herself. Tutored by Charles Voisin, a pilot, and an airplane builder, she flew for the first time in 1909 and got her official pilot license in 1910. She broke several world records during her career, first for flying a distance of 323 kilometers, and for flying an altitude of 4500 meters above the ground in 1913 and then 4800 meters in 1919. Flight magazine called Raymonde de Laroche "The Baroness", and the title stayed with her all her life that a lot of people thought she was of noble origin. Anne Spencer Morrow Lindbergh [caption id="attachment_2697" align="alignnone" width="949"] Anne Spencer Morrow Lindbergh[/caption] Born in 1906, Anne Spencer Morrow Lindbergh was a writer and a pilot. A prime example for women’s rights, Anne worked side by side with her husband, Charles Lindbergh, she was his co-pilot for years. In 1930, Anne became the first woman in the U.S.A to get a glider pilot’s license. She later worked as her husband’s co-pilot, navigator, and radio operator. She helped Charles set a new transcontinental speed record, they flew from Los Angeles to New York City in 14 hours 45 minutes, which was a record at the time. And in 1931 they made a three-month-long journey to survey air routes from Canada and Alaska to East Asia. That trip was the subject of Lindbergh’s first book, North to the Orient, which was published in 1935. Her most famous written work, Gift from the Sea, was published in 1955. It comprises a collection of essays that discuss the struggle we all go through to achieve balance and serenity in life, with a focus on the life of modern women. Bessie Coleman [caption id="attachment_2698" align="alignnone" width="949"] Bessie Coleman[/caption] Born in 1892, Bessie Coleman was the first African American woman, as well as the first woman of Native-American descent to earn a pilot license. Even though flying schools in the United States did not accept black women at the time, she was determined enough to find another way to achieve her goal. Bessie learned French and moved to France. She studied at Caudron Brother's School of Aviation and got her international pilot license in 1921, thus becoming the first person of African-American and Native American descent to earn an international aviation license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. In order to start a career as a stunt flier, Bessie needed advanced lessons. She spent another two months in France where she took an advanced course in aviation, then left for the Netherlands to meet the renowned aircraft designer Anthony Fokker. After that, she traveled to Germany, where she received additional training at the Fokker Corporation from one of the company's chief pilots. After all this extensive training, Bessie went back to America to start a career in exhibition flying, becoming one of the most famous female pilots in the USA. Bessica Medlar Raiche [caption id="attachment_2699" align="alignnone" width="949"] Bessica Medlar Raiche[/caption] Not only did she make solo flights, but Bessica Medlar Raiche also designed and built an airplane with her husband. A doctor, a linguist, an artist, a musician, and a pilot, Bessica was certainly both gifted and motivated. Bessica, who was born in 1875, graduated from Tufts Medical School in 1903. She practiced medicine as a doctor and a dentist. When she was in France studying painting, she saw Orville Wright demonstrate his Wright Flyer. This affected her tremendously that she decided to build a similar aircraft when she went back home to the USA. With the help of her husband, she built an airplane based on the Wrights’ design but using lighter-weight materials. And because she was lighter than her husband it was decided that she would be the one who tries the plane. The flight took place on 16 September 1910, Bessica flew the plane exactly five times. The last flight, however, did not end with the smoothest landing, but Bessica was unharmed. Later on, Mr. and Mrs. Raiche formed the French-American Aeroplane Company and built several more airplanes. Sheila Scott [caption id="attachment_2700" align="alignnone" width="949"] Sheila Scott[/caption] Born in 1927, British aviator Sheila Scott broke more than 100 flying records between 1965 and 1972. She is definitely one of the most powerful women in the cockpit. She earned her pilot license in 1960 and started racing with her old biplane. To support her passion for flying, she worked as a demonstrator for Cessna and Piper aircraft. In 1966, Scott flew around the world for the first time, covering around 50,000 kilometers in 189 flying hours. She started setting world records after that, starting with her flight between London and Cape Town in 1967, her flight across the North Atlantic Ocean in 1967, and across the South Atlantic Ocean in 1969, and her flight from the Equator to the Equator over the North Pole in 1971. Her 100th world-class record was set during her third around-the-world solo flight. In addition to an impressive flying career, she published two books:  I Must Fly, which was published in 1968, and On Top of the World, published in 1973. Jacqueline Cochran [caption id="attachment_2701" align="alignnone" width="949"] Jacqueline Cochran[/caption] At the time of her death in 1980, Jacqueline Cochran, who was born in 1906, held more distance, altitude and speed world records than any other pilot, male or female. Known as the speed queen, Cochran was the only woman to compete and win in the Bendix race, the first female pilot to break the sound barrier, the first woman to land and take off from an aircraft carrier, and the first female president of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale. Cochran used her fame and money to help empower women, contributing to charitable causes and trying to establish a place for women in the space race. She believed that it was not enough to put more women in the cockpit women should also conquer space. To learn more about famous women in the cockpit see also: Hanadi Al Hindi: the first Saudi Woman to become a pilot The first Arab female pilot: Captain Pilot Lotfia Elnadi Aviation pioneers: Amelia Earhart References: http://www.femtechleaders.com/the-11-most-famous-female-pilots-in-history/ https://www.pilotweb.aero/features/10-outstanding-women-from-aviation-history-1-4006901 https://www.aerotime.aero/rytis.beresnevicius/23357-raymonde-de-laroche-first-licensed-pilot https://www.britannica.com/biography/Anne-Spencer-Morrow-Lindbergh https://www.biography.com/explorer/bessie-coleman https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bessie_Raiche https://www.britannica.com/biography/Sheila-Scott https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jacqueline-Cochran

Hanadi Al Hindi: the first Saudi Woman to become a pilot

No doubt that the kingdom is rapidly developing, especially regarding women rights. Saudi women are now driving and pursuing many careers that were deemed male only jobs until a few years ago. However, that was not always the case, and certainly not during the time when Hanadi Al Hindi was born. And yet, despite the community at the time believing it to be a man job, Hanadi Zakaria Al Hindi became a captain pilot. Let’s take a look at the career of this extraordinary woman, a woman who believes that the sky is the limit. Early dream Born in Mecca in September 1978, The Saudi pilot says that it was her father’s dream to see her become a pilot and that she couldn’t have accomplished what she did without his love and support. “I remember one time at the Jeddah Corniche when I was younger, my father saw an airplane and said, ‘would you like to be pilot?’ but I did not take him seriously. Then he told me if I want it, he will help me accomplish it,” Hanadi Al Hindi. And as there wasn’t a proper aviation academy in the Kingdom that accepted female students at the time, Hanadi had to study abroad. Early career Hanadi did some training after getting her private license in 2001. In 2013, she received a commercial pilot license from the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA). By receiving it, Hanadi Zakaria Al Hindi became the first Saudi woman to successfully obtain a such a license in Saudi Arabia. After receiving her official license, she started her career as a pilot with the Kingdom Holding Company. When asked repeatedly by the media why she did not accept an offer to fly with an airline abroad, Hanadi said that she believed she had a vocation to help pave the way for other Saudi women who want to become pilots. Present career Hanadi has got a 10 year old contract flying private jets for Kingdom Holding Company. She also gives aviation related lectures and works as an aviation instructor in several esteemed establishments. In addition to that, she has become an international advocate for women’s rights. Hanadi Al Hindi is an internationally 'looked up to' woman. She believed she could be whatever she wants so she did. She has stated recently after Saudi Women received the right to drive cars that she really believes in Vision 2030, she absolutely trusts that flying planes will be a normal career choice for women soon. Bright future Nowadays, with aviation schools such as SNCA, a CAE Authorized Training Centre opening their doors to both male and female students, the future for female pilots in Saudi Arabia looks brighter than ever. What was once an impossible dream is currently a realistic goal, a goal that a student needs only to work on to achieve. Hanady may be the first Saudi woman to become a captain pilot, but many others will soon follow. The sky is the limit for Saudi women right now. "Pioneers face many challenges and obstacles, but we are paving the way for future generations,” Hanadi Al Hindi.  

5 Times when emergency landing saved everyone on board

An emergency landing is a prioritized landing made by an aircraft as a result of an emergency. It usually includes a compulsory diversion to the nearest airport. Sometimes however, it is done in any given clear area or body of water. Upon the declaration of the emergency, air traffic control must prioritize and give way to the aircraft immediately if it was to land in an airport. If no airport is nearby, the success of the landing depends solely on the wits of the crew and their ability to think outside the box. Types of emergency landing Forced landing In forced landing the aircraft is forced to land as soon as possible, largely due to technical problems. The pilot basically attempts to get the aircraft on the ground and avoid any injury to passengers on board. This might even be attempted in clear area of land when there is no runway nearby. Forced landing may occur as a safety measure; meaning that the aircraft might still be flyable at the time of landing but must be landed immediately to avoid an imminent crash or ditching. When forced landing occurs in an airport, the aircraft is often fixed and can probably fly again.   Ditching Ditching is forced landing on water. In this case, the aircraft will most probably sink eventually, or at least get permanently damaged. However, the point of ditching is saving passengers on board. They are often evacuated on rafts in wait for the rescue teams.   Top emergency landings through history 1-   Pan American Flight 6 This four-engine Boeing 377 took off on a flight from Honolulu to San Francisco October 16th, 1956. Two out of the four engines failed half way through the flight, this caused an increase in fuel consumption and the crew found that they do not have enough fuel to reach their destination. The aircraft was ditched on the ocean; everyone on board survived the ditching and was promptly saved by the coast guard.   2-   Air Canada Flight 143 This domestic passenger flight took off from Montreal heading to Edmonton on July 23rd, 1983. The aircraft ran out of fuel midway through the flight, at an altitude of 41,000 foot. The incident is commonly known as the Gimli Glider because the crew was able to successfully glide the Boeing 767 aircraft safely to an emergency landing at an old Air Force base in Gimli that had been transformed into a racing track. There were no injuries neither among the 61 passengers on board or the people on the race track who witnessed the emergency landing.   3-   British Airways Flight 9 Flight 009 was a scheduled British Airways flight from London Heathrow to Auckland with several stops along the way. On June 24th, 1982, the Boeing 747 flew into a cloud of volcanic ash thrown up by the eruption of Mount Galunggung south-east of Jakarta, Indonesia, which caused the failure of all four engines. The crew was able to glide the aircraft out of the ash cloud, and land safely at the Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in Jakarta.   4-   American Airlines Flight 96 On June 12th, 1972, during a regular domestic flight from Los Angeles to New York, the left rear cargo door blew open above Windsor, Ontario. Despite the major damage that happened to the aircraft, the crew was able to return to Detroit Metropolitan Airport and execute a miraculous emergency landing that only veered marginally of the runway, with no major injuries to anyone on board.   5-   US Airways Flight 1549 The most renowned ditching in aviation history, to learn more about this flight check this: Miracle on Hudson River: Flight 1549

Aviation pioneers: Amelia Earhart

The first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, Amelia Mary Earhart was one of the most renowned aviation pioneers in history. Even though her disappearance remains a mystery, her life and her various accomplishments still inspire people to this day. So let’s take a look together at the amazing life of Amelia Earhart, the American pilot who has manged to inspire numerous pilots and millions of women all around the world. Early years She was born in July 24th, 1897 in Atchison, Kansas. Amelia saw her first airplane in Iowa State Fair in Des Moines; she refused to go into it. The aviation pioneer later described the biplane as not at all interesting. After finishing her high school education she received training as a nurse's aide from the Red Cross and began work with the Voluntary Aid. On December 28th, 1920, Earhart and her father visited an airfield in Long Beach, where she took a plane ride that utterly changed her life. "By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground I knew I had to fly.” She said. Aviation career After that visit, Amelia worked a variety of jobs to save money for flying lessons. She had her first lesson on January 3rd, 1921. She was the 16th woman in the United States to be issued a pilot's license. She received it on May 15th, 1923. She became a member of the American Aeronautical Society's Boston chapter and was eventually elected its vice president. Moreover, she also flew the first official flight out of Dennison Airport in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1927. Around the same time, Earhart also wrote local newspaper columns about flying. Her first flight across the Atlantic was on June 17th, 1928. She flew as the third member of a crew. Amelia was not happy with that flight as she stated later that her job was minimal. Her solo transatlantic flight On May 20th, 1932, Earhart set off from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, with the intent to fly to Paris in her single engine plane. After a flight that lasted for 14 hours, 56 minutes in which she had to deal with strong northerly winds, icy conditions and mechanical problems, Amelia landed in a field at Culmore, Northern Ireland. When a farmer asked, "Have you flown far?" Earhart replied, "From America". More solo records On January 11th, 1935, Amelia Earhart became the first pilot to fly solo from Honolulu, Hawaii to Oakland, California. Those were not her only records, between the years 1930 and 1935, Amelia Earhart set seven women's speed and distance aviation records in a variety of aircraft including a solo flight from Los Angeles to Mexico City and a nonstop flight from Mexico City to New York. Her last flight During a long flight intending to circle the globe, Amelia Earhart disappeared somewhere over the Pacific in July 1937. Her disappearance remains one of the greatest mysteries in the world as her plane was never found. Amelia Earhart was officially declared lost at sea. Pioneer and icon During her lifetime, Amelia Earhart was a world renowned international celebrity. Her persistence, courage and goal-oriented career have sustained her fame in popular culture around the globe. Hundreds of articles and books have been written about her life. In addition to being one of the most renowned aviation pioneers, Earhart is also regarded as a feminist icon. Numerous women started to believe that they can in fact excel in what was previously presumed as man jobs thanks to leading pioneers as Amelia Earhart. To learn more about aviation pioneers see also: The first Arab female pilot: Captain Pilot Lotfia Elnadi Miracle on Hudson River: Flight 1549

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