In December 1933, an air race from Cairo to Alexandria was held. The first plane to cross the finish line was piloted by a 26-year-old woman named Lotfia El Nadi, Egypt’s first female aviator.
Born in 1907, Like many of girls of her age, she dreamed of bigger and better things. One day, she came across an article about aviation that had a bit of intriguing news. A flying school had just opened in Cairo. This was just too much temptation for the young Lotfia. El-Nadi made news when she became the first Egyptian woman to fly a plane solo from Cairo to Alexandria in 1933 in an international race. The Egyptian aviator was the second woman in the world to fly solo, after Amelia Earhart.
Google Egypt is celebrating the birthday of Lotfia El-Nadi, the first Egyptian and African female aviator. An image of the pilot wearing an aviator helmet appears on Google Egypt’s homepage on Wednesday, what would be her 107th birthday.
She had a strict upbringing. Lotfia had to distract her father to be able to attend flying lessons twice a week without his knowledge or consent.
It is said that her first time in a plane was when she worked as a receptionist at Cairo airport and she had to hide in a 2-seater plane to try flying. When the plane took off, she popped her head up and told the pilot she only wanted to try the feeling! Later she learned to be a pilot. At one time she had to live in the dessert as part of a survival training course. The only women in that group were herself and another girl
She attended flying lessons twice a week and told her father she was in a study group as her mother secretly helped her become a pilot. She worked in Cairo Airport before getting her license to be near planes and cover the fees her parents wouldn’t.
Following Lotfia’s example, other Egyptian women also joined the flying school and became pilots. Among them were Dina Al-Sawi, Zohra Ragab, Nafisa Al-Ghamrawi, Linda Masoud, Blanche Fattoush, Aziza Moharram, Aida Takla, Layla Masoud, Aisha Abdel-Maqsoud, and Qadriya Tolaymat. But the trend for women to become pilots died out about ten years later. Since 1945, no Egyptian women have trained as pilots.
Lotfia became a hero and a national treasure in the eyes of Egyptians. In 1955, El-Nady traveled to Switzerland for medical treatment and lived there for a long time. She never married. In 2002, Lotfia El Nadi died at age 95