I want to fly is a book by Muhammad At-Tahlawai tells the story of Nahar An-Nassar also known as Kings’ pilot, the first Saudi pilot to cross the ocean and travel the world with his plane.
They were four young men who had the fate to study at Jebel school in Dhahran, one of the first schools that the ambitious Saudis joined to enter the Oil Company, now known as Aramco; namely Ali An-Nuaimi, Nahar An-Nassar, Ahmad Matar, and Ali Al-Qarawi.
The American teacher asked his four students about their dreams as they grew up. “I want to become a scientist, to take over the presidency of this company.” the first of them, Ali An-Nuaimi, who came from Al-Badia, and later worked as an office boy at the company’s compound, said. But, Nahar An-Nassar said: “I want to fly, I want to become a pilot.” Ahmad Matar said the same, while Al-Qarawi said: “I want to become a doctor.”
After years, Ali An-Nuaimi achieved his dream to become a geologist, the first Saudi president of Aramco, and later an oil minister. An-Nahar also achieved his dream and became a distinguished pilot. Captain Ahmad Matar became a pilot and director of Saudi Airlines, as well. Ali Al-Qarawi became a well-known consultant doctor.
Among these dreams was the dream of the young man; I want to fly that turned to a book with the same title which is the biography of the Saudi pilot known as Nahar An-Nassar, who is also known as the Saudi kings’ pilot, and the first Saudi pilot to cross the ocean and fly the world with his plane.
On the World Book and Copyright Day, April 23rd, the book was recently published by the library of the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithraa) of Aramco that was collected and edited by Muhammad At-Tahlawi, who was the head of Aramco’s (The Caravan) magazine.
The book tells the biography of An-Nassar, as one of the inspiring stories of sacrifice, perseverance, and diligence, which can serve as a model for aspiring Saudi youth. This young man, like his peers, was working at the time of expressing their dreams, as “office boys” to carry papers and files between offices, but they were able to inspire generations.
The author of the book, Muhammad At-Tahlawi, says that the completion of this book took him an 11-year long journey began on May 29, 2008, and concluded in April 2019. The book is divided into eight chapters:
Chapter One, “Roots of the Day”: It talks about the family of An-Nassar, its history, roots, and journey through the Arabian Peninsula to Az-Zubayr and then back to Saudi Arabia.
Chapter Two, “The day came”: It is about the birth of An-Nassar in the city of Khobar, east of Saudi Arabia.
Chapter Three, “The beginnings of the day”: He talks about the early years of the life of An-Nassar, and the beginnings of his passion of aviation.
Chapter Four, “Science is light of day”: It talks about the educational background of An-Nassar, in the city of Khobar, in Aramco, then in Egypt to prepare for the study of aviation and then study aviation in Egypt, later in Britain, and then back to Egypt again.
Chapter Five, “work day and night”: It deals with the professional career of Captain Nahar An-Nassar, the distinguished achievements he made, and the awards he won, in addition to some strange and funny stories.
Chapter Six, “Day in Life”: It talks about the family and social life of Captain An-Nassar aside of work, focusing on his small and large family, the strength of his relations with each other, his relations with his friends, and his daily schedule of life.
Chapter Seven, “End of Day”: It talks about Captain Nahar’s illness and death.
Chapter eight, “The Day in Their Eyes”: includes all the articles and news about Captain Nahar An-Nassar, in the local and foreign media, and in other sources.
Tahlawi said: “Unlike most of biographies, I added to the main text, additional short texts give the reader good information on topics related to the biography of Captain Nahar; there is a short text about the city of Khobar, another about the homes that his family lived in Khobar, the Saudi Airlines, and another about the first Saudi pilot and others.”
Background on family and the early year
The family of Captain Nahar descends from Najd, and then they moved to the city of Az-Zubayr in southern Iraq, where his father and grandfather work as camel drivers to transfer pilgrims and Umrah performers, and organize trips and transport of goods. With discovery of oil in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia in the 1930s, his father and uncle returned there, settling in Khobar, working in Aramco as laborers and then as contractors.
An-Nassar was born in Al-Khobar city in 1936, received his primary education in what was known as “Al-Kataytab”, where he learned the Holy Quran and the principles of reading and writing. He also learned something from English by an Indian woman who was the wife of a doctor working in Al-Khobar.
Nassar joined the first and only public school that was opened at that time in Al-Khobar, and was initially named after the Al-Amiria school. He then joined the Arab American Oil Company (Aramco) in Dhahran in the mid-1950’s, where he worked as an office boy for part of his time, and learned English and some basic sciences at the company’s school in the other time.
Nahar showed up his passion for flying, whether in the movements he used to do while carrying the papers between the offices as he used to mimic the sounds of the planes as well as their movements, or when he accompanied his father to Dhahran Airport, where he used to keep watching planes taking off and landing on the runway, all the time repeating that he wants to fly.
Stages of Study
His career began in 1953, when his father sent him to fly to Egypt. He joined the St. Andrews School in Alexandria, where he obtained his high school diploma. In 1954, he joined the Egyptian Air Institute in Imbaba, and received his training in aviation science by the famous pilots’ trainer Azizah Muharram Fahim.
He continued his training at the Institute until May 1956, and then his father sent him to the UK to complete his aviation study. He joined the Southampton University of Air Sciences, where he obtained a student’s license and continued studying until September 1956, but he was forced to cut his studies there because of the Tripartite Aggression in Egypt, in which Britain participated.
An-Nassar returned to Egypt, where he joined a group of young Saudis whom the government had sent to study aviation and completed their studies at the Aviation Institute until November 1957, where he received his private flight license.
The youngest Saudi Pilot Commander
In December 1957, Nahar An-Nassar joined Saudi Airways as a pilot assistant at first. In November 1958, a major change took place in his life when King Faisal, who was then crown prince, ordered the employment of Saudi pilot commanders, because all the Saudi pilot commanders at that time were foreign nationalities. An-Nassar, along with his colleague Baha Ed-Din Asaad, managed to pass the necessary test and became the first Saudis to become the captain of a Douglas DC-3 commercial plane. Captain Nahar Nassar was the youngest Saudi to achieve this rank, as he was only 23 years old.
He continued training on various types of aircraft that joined the Saudi Airlines fleet. In 1961, Captain Nahar was sent to the United States to obtain an Airline Pilot certificate from the US Federal Aviation Administration. At the end of 1963, An-Nassar succeeded in the flight test on a Boeing jet to become the youngest Saudi and Arab pilot, and even the youngest pilot in the world up to that date, driving a jet.
During the 1960s, he was appointed as the commander pilot of the Royal Airplane, and continued to do so until his death, that’s why he is known as Kings’ pilot. In 1971, Captain Nassar completed a journey around the world with King Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s first flight around the world. After completing this flight, Captain Nahar was officially awarded the International Date Line Crossing Certificate.
In September 1975, An-Nasar was commissioned to establish a Royal Flight Department that would be independent of the normal operations of Saudi Arabian Airlines. He was the first to establish this section and in 1976 he was appointed as Director of Royal Flight Operations while continuing to fly.
One year later, in 1977, he became the first General Manager of Royal Travel Operations and in mid-1993 he was appointed as Assistant General Manager of Saudi Airlines for Royal Flight Operations. An-Nassar’s biography, who was diligent, patient, and perseverant, ended on August 3, 1994, at the military hospital in Jeddah, where he died after suffering the disease, registering more than 18,000 flying hours.