In a time when Amelia Earhart started her flight as the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in the 1930s, Lotfia ElNadi was in Cairo attending her flying lessons surreptitiously without the knowledge of her family taking and advantage of her job as a secretary in a flight school. ElNadi then joined Earhart as the second female aviator in the world.
The two women became national heroes. Earhart gained popularity in American society in a timely manner, while Egyptian ElNadi has received a telegram stating “you are an honor for your country, you raised our heads and culminated our renaissance in the crown of pride.”
Unlike men, women are working inside and outside the home, erasing the popular belief that women’s work represents an obstacle to her family life. Women have succeeded in achieving a balance between home and work. Women have proved that they are able to penetrate the most difficult areas dominated by men such as space science and aviation. Despite a lack of proportion, they represent a sample worthy of attention and focus because they are distinguished by their sharp, intelligent, and strong personalities as well as clear and logical thinking.
Since the beginning of the 1980s a number of pioneers in engineering, aviation and meteorology have emerged in Yemen. Some of them continued but some stopped because they lack good opportunities to work like Captain Rosa and Afra’a. National Yemen interviewed Sana Abdualatif, a civil pilot in the Air Bazrah Academy for Aviation, to reflect on her experience as a pilot in Yemen and the difficulties that women may face in such a job. Sana is Moroccan women who carries Yemeni nationality.
Could you brief us about your start in the field of aviation?
My start was when I join the Institute of Aviation in Morocco in air Hospitality department. I worked as a hostess. Then I decided to have an interview with Yemen Airways. They chose me and it was my first time coming to Yemen. I worked with Yemen Airways from 2003 to 2008. Now I am working with the Bazrah Academy for Aviation.
Is there anyone who supported you to continue?
I liked Aviation from childhood and my dream was to be a pilot and to be in the sky with no chains. First, my ambitions supported me and second, my husband who taught me and gave the opportunity for me. He is a captain and manger of the Bazrah Academy for Aviation.
You are married and have two children. How do you harmonize your job and your family?
My husband always supports me and understands well my job. Sometimes I need the help of my mother. Actually, if your family and especially husband are supporting you everything will be ok and you won’t face any difficulties.
As a woman did you face any difficulties in your work?
Actually my only difficulty was society because it did not accept me. But now I feel that they are more understanding and aware of the importance of working women. For me, my society is my family and thanks to Allah all my family liked my job and kept encouraging me.
What is the most difficult moment you faced while you were in the air?
I really had a very difficult time when a helicopter who entered into my fly line didn’t contact with the tower and he didn’t hear me so he insisted on landing before me but finally I was able to manage it. The most critical challenge in aviation to fly is takeoff and landing, but it is good with me.
If I put between two choices either to continue to fly in the sky or to be on the ground with your family what will you chose?
Because I feel like myself in the sky, not on the ground. The feeling of being in the open sky and the wings of a plane flying is a very beautiful feeling.
What is your ambition for the future?
I want to be an international pilot and pilot’s trainer.
Why do you think there is still a limited view of working women in Yemen?
It is because they believe that women have to be at home. My friends are an example. They studied with me but then they got married and settled at home. In Yemen you have only one choice, either to marry or to work. But some women can prove themselves after a lot of effort. I think sometimes it works when a woman marries someone from the same working field because they can understand each other and manage themselves.
Captain Rosa and Afra’a disappeared from the Aviation Square. Do think it is because of society and married life?
No, it is because they didn’t get the opportunity to have work in the Airlines. When they applied for job they put them in the waiting list until the company can improve and get more planes. It is because of the situation of the country.
What is behind the success of women?
Herself. If she has real ambition and aim she can challenge all the people around her, even her family because women with ambition are so strong and can not easily be weak.