Al-Hindi Overcomes Health Hazards

PANEL of doctors has declared Capt. Hanadi Zakaria Al-Hindi once again ready for takeoff.

The first Saudi woman pilot is fit to go back to her work following a number of abdominal surgeries at different British and Saudi hospitals recently.

“Thanks to Allah, I have been diagnosed fit and healthy to work as a pilot after spending seven months in suffering, which also put a question mark on my career,” said Al-Hindi in an interview with Arab News here yesterday. The 29-year-old Saudi became the Kingdom’s first accredited woman pilot after being hired by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of Kingdom Holding Company, said that she would be leaving for the UK shortly to complete an advance European aviation training called CPL/Instrument Rating.

“This allows a career pilot to fly aircraft in the worst weather conditions and the busiest airspace in the world; Therefore it is one of the most demanding ratings,” she said. The training in the UK will encompass flight purely on instruments, including simulated emergencies, departures and approaches.

“I am proud of myself and my family for supporting me, and I’m proud of Prince Alwaleed who has extended all help,” said Al-Hindi. The prince had also paid for Al-Hindi’s studies in Jordan. Al-Hindi said that she was greatly concerned about her health since early this year following some medical tests and diagnosis. Al-Hindi suffered from a urinary block that also caused her kidneys to enlarge.

Asked whether she will be able to fly the jets next year, Al-Hindi said that pilots and crew members are allowed to fly as long as they are declared fit by certified doctors. She pointed out that she now fulfills all standard health requirements for pilots, who should have 20/20 vision with or without glasses, no hearing impairment and no physical handicaps that could impair performance. Al-Hindi, who started her aviation schooling at Jordan’s Middle East Academy of Aviation in 2002, has become something of a celebrity in this country after gaining her Jordanian commercial pilot’s license in 2006. Al-Hindi, who was born in Makkah, has a 10-year contract with Prince Alwaleed’s KHC as chief captain of his private jet. Al-Hindi, who belongs to a middle-class family, is the third daughter in a family of four sisters and two brothers.

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