History was created when a retired Saudi Arabian Airlines pilot reached back home after his 60-day long solo flight all around the world on a single engine plane. The retired pilot Captain Sami Raffa left his job way back in 2000 and ever since has been planning to travel the world on his plane. He finally fulfilled his dream in 2015 when he flew outside Saudi Arabia which he in 1961 and 1962 had failed to complete due to the political instability in the country back then. Attaining his lifelong dream at 73 the pilot makes this trip as a historical achievement in Jeddah. He stated that he was about to sell off his private jet as his dreams seemed unreachable when Sheikh Yousef Abdullatif Jameel funded his trip and supported him.
The pilot had started showing interest in flying and aircraft when he was as young as 16. He refers to this trip as the “trip of gratitude” and thanked all the people who helped him in becoming the pilot that he is along with his education and career. He thanked his family for the continuous support and for encouraging him always. The pilot Raffa was born in Makkah and was educated and raised in Vienna, Austria. He served as a pilot for Saudi Arabian Airline for around 37 years.
Apart from dedicating his trip to the people who helped him become a pilot and supported him he dedicated his trip to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and the citizens of Saudi Arabia for their hospitality. He intends to publish a document to enlighten people of how adventurous his trip was.
This trip started on April 28, 2015, and estimated the journey to be around 40,000 kilometers, which is the same as the distance around the world at the Equator. The aircraft he opted for was a Moony Model M20R Ovation which is a 1995 American built aircraft and was made alterations to according to his needs. He flew his piston-powered, single engine airplane and he crossed 17 countries, several deserts, glaciers, volcanoes, and oceans and approximately made two dozen stops on his way.
His departure was from Baden Baden in Germany on the 28th of April after checking weather forecasts and ensuring he would not face any issues during the flight. He says that the weather conditions helped him a lot with the navigation and helped him understand the route he wanted to opt for. However, the trip, on the whole, had several drawbacks like engine failure, extreme weather conditions, scarcity of airfield and being unfamiliar with languages.
Raffa was inspired at a very early age and had great people in his life that supported him and he wants to be there for the future generation and guide them with his experience. He also highly praised Yoused Jameel who is the owner of Anjum hotel in Makkah, the CEO of NEXUS Flight Operation Services of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Al Sayed in assisting him with his trip.
Source: Saudi Gazette