Saudi Women Pilot Gliders

Instructors give last-minute instructions to women gliders, who are taking up the sport in a big way. — Courtesy photos

Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — Saudi women denied driving cars, have opted to achieve their dreams in flying gliders. The Saudi Aviation Club in Jeddah provides this service to those interested in a rental capacity. Owning a glider can run to SR37,000 to SR400,000, Al Madina reported Sunday.

The paper's reporter was present at the Gliding Club on King Abdul Aziz Road in Jeddah and saw the activity in this sport without any harassment from anyone.

Taghreed said flying gliders is greatly enjoyable and in the air one forgets everything on the ground. “A person just enjoys the beautiful scenes of the earth and sea and fresh air without any harassment from anyone. Just me, the glide and the atmosphere,” Taghreed said.  She added, “After a search I came to know that there is a school teaching gliding. I visited them and obtained a license. Now I can fly a gyro-copter.”

Amal, another Saudi, said aviation sports are among the best sports for women in Saudi Arabia. In the air, a girl is far from the earth and is alone. She sees a big portion of Jeddah. Amal said that she came to the Aviation Club with her brother. She climbed a glider accompanied by her brother. She was greatly impressed by the sport. After her marriage, she underwent training and became a professional glider.

The director of the aviation school Muhammad Al-Qarni said, “The majority of those who come to the school get an introductory flight. Usually they are accompanied by a trainer.

Some of them like the idea and submit an application for a training course to learn gliding skills. After that he or she flies alone. The papers of those interested to get a course and a gliding license are referred to the Saudi Aviation Club and then to the Ministry of Interior. A person gets training after approval of his application.

The training course costs nearly SR800 per hour. Some need 10 hours while others need 30 hours depending on their comprehension and the speed of learning. The license is then referred to the Ministry of Interior for final approval. The licensee can then fly anywhere in the world.

Al-Qarni said there are several kinds of gliding in aviation — the first is using gyrocopters and the second using pro-motors and metrolites. Each type has a different body from the other.

As to the prices of these aircraft, they start from SR37,000 to SR50,000. The prices of metrolites begin from SR130,000 and the prices of gyrocopters begin from SR240,000 upto SR400,000. The prices differ according to the specifications required. There are some people who want the aircraft to be air-conditioned, multicolored and from a particular manufacturing company. Each feature has its price.

Al-Qarni said a glider uses benzene 95. The tank is filled for SR16 and this is enough for continuous flying of six hours. As to the obstacles they face, he said the biggest obstacles are the limited places they are allowed to fly, whether in Jeddah or Riyadh.