JEDDAH: The first Saudi to obtain a hot air balloon pilot’s license in the kingdom is ready to give back to the community after three years of “blessed and fortunate” training experience.
The accreditation of Abdurrahman Saleh Al-Wohaivi by the Saudi Arabian Civil Aviation Authority on 27 July marks the achievement of a goal that began in Australia in 2019.
He told Arab News that his dream of becoming a hot air balloonist began three years ago while he was completing his master’s degree in Australia.
“I remember that day in 2019 when I was watching a group of hot air balloons drifting slowly through the sky. “It was mesmerizing.
Al-Wohaibi has always had a penchant for high altitudes and holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Aerospace Engineering and a Bachelor’s degree in Airworthiness Management.
“I was very interested in ballooning. I have been to many other adventures, but this one was the most beautiful. It was very peaceful,” he said.
Since that day in 2019, Al Wohaibi has been inspired to explore the culture and history of hot air ballooning and embark on a training journey.
“This is what I have always wanted to do and most importantly, what I want to share with my loved ones in the Kingdom,” he said.
Al-Wohaibi holds two private pilot licenses. One for fixed-wing aircraft issued in the UK in 2015 and another in Australia in 2019.
In 2020, we were licensed to fly hot air balloons by the Australian Balloon Federation and the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
“It was a real honor to complete the training and get the registration,” said Al-Wohaibi, “to explore more and gain new experiences.”
He passed the Australian test on his first attempt and finished training in just five weeks, breaking the record for the fastest training time in the country.
“Completing the course in such a tight timescale was a challenging achievement. Normally, trainees have up to 12 months to complete the course. I am very grateful to my family for their support because of the time distance, the burden on my family, and my master’s degree,” he said.
“I feel so blessed and lucky to have been taught how to fly with Australian National Champion Paul Gibbs in the highlands of Victoria, Australia. , holds numerous awards and qualifications in the balloon field.”
Al-Wohaibi is certified to fly large balloons carrying up to 36 passengers and is authorized to travel within fly-in airports. ” He said.
Al-Wohaibi is now ready to give back to his country and community by introducing the people of the kingdom to the culture of hot air ballooning, allowing them to see the natural beauty of Saudi Arabia in peace. it’s finished.
“I would like to pass on the knowledge and experience I have gained to help those in Saudi Arabia who are interested in the sport,” he said.
Al-Wohaibi is also keen to train new pilots and start a tourist flight business, contributing to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
Earlier this year, Al-Wohaibi got the chance to fly at a hot air balloon show in AlUla amid a burgeoning tourism sector within Saudi Arabia.
The event was part of the AlUla Skies Festival, which featured more than 150 hot air balloon flights over ancient ruins.
“We’re seeing dramatic developments in tourism and sports. I think hot air balloon flights are certainly an important contribution,” said Al-Wohhaibi.
One of his main goals going forward is to own a personal balloon to fly over the “best places” of the kingdom and share the experience with friends and family.
“It is very important to have a good understanding of the weather, especially the local weather and peculiarities. Saudi Arabia is characterized by a very diverse weather environment, which in itself is a satisfying challenge,” said Al-Wahibi. rice field.
“I depart from different cities across the Kingdom. I also have an interest in participating in many international ballooning events and competitions both at home and abroad.”
The first hot air balloon experience was brought to Saudi Arabia in AlUla in 2019.
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