Aviation History

a) Abbas bin Fernas

b) First fleet in Arabian Peninsula

c) First Saudi Pilot

d) First Arabian outer space mission

Abbas Ibn Firnas

Abu Al-Qasim Abbas Ibn Firnas Ibn Wirdas Al—Takurti the Andalusian Al-Qurtobi, was born in 810 AD and died in 887 AD. Abbas lived in Emirate of Cordoba in Al-Andalus and he is reputed to be one of the best known Muslims Andalusian scientists as he was an inventor, engineer, pilot, and doctor.

He was the first human to try to fly and the first one who thought of aviation. People thought of him as the first astronaut and the first inventor of aviation when he feathered himself and installed two wings by which he could fly for a distant but, unfortunately, he crashed which caused him back pain. This happened because he didn’t fix a tail. At this time his old was sixty five years.

Abbas Ibn Firnas conducted different experiments. However, he studied the weight of bodies and the relevant air resistance in addition to effect of air pressure in such bodies if they could fly. In this trial, his vast knowledge in physics, mathematics, and chemistry was helpful to him where he got acquainted with characteristics of substances and gained the necessary information to try the real process of flying himself. At that time, he covered himself with feather that was made of the strong silk which was able to support his heavy body, later; he attached two mobile wings of silk as strong carriers while flying.

On the year 875 AD, Abbas Ibn Firnas declared in public in regards of the intention to fly, starting from a high point known for all people of Cordoba who crowded to watch such inimitable act and this human bird that would fly in the sky of Cordoba. Abu Al-Qasim ascended the hill using his silk machinery, then moved his wings and jumped into the air. Thereby the result was that he flew to a point far from the launch stand that made people look admiringly. But like before his back was hurt while landing as he forgot the fact that the bird could land using its tail for balance and he, of course, was ignorant in regards to the significance of tail in body during the moment of landing.

Accordingly, we could refer that the experiment of Abbas Ibn Firnas was the sole spring for the Europeans since the eleventh Gregorian century as it is un-doubtlessly known that pioneer of European aviation called "Elmer" and his successors have read about the experience made by Abbas Ibn Firnas and they based upon it as a source to aspire the idea of aviation in the continent of Europe that has been confirmed by professor of American history, Dr. "Leen Hwaite", in the Scientific research he wrote and published in the magazine of technology and culture (Vol. 2 –edition 2) dated 1960 AD.

Notwithstanding, Abbas Ibn Firnas is regarded as first astronaut over history as he is thanked for achieving progress in aerospace science that developed through eight centuries till the appearance of brothers white who could fly in 1903 AD.

1916 AD initial of Aero-planes in Arabian Peninsula

The introduction of airplanes in Arabian Peninsula occurred during the military conflict that broke out between Ottoman state and the English who supported what named thereby as the major Arab up-rise led by Sheriff Hussein against Ottoman escorts in Al-Hejaz region.

In Egypt, the British escort supported Sheriff Hussein with guns and armored vehicles. Furthermore, six airplanes of the type (BE2C) were equipped with machine guns. These airplanes were transported by a British vessel that landed in Rabigh seaport dated 12th November, 1916 AD.

Archive picture: The airplanes of the type (BE2C) in Hemdh valley, northwest of Saudi Arabia.

The advanced arming and the tactics made by the English lieutenant (Te Laurence) named (Arab Laurence) resulted in defeat of Ottoman escort that withdrew northward.

The first Saudi pilot

The pilot, Abdulsalaam Sarhan, who was a member of a noble family in Holly Makkah, is considered as the first Saudi pilot and the first Arabian pilot who flew over the Arabian Peninsula in April 1923 AD when he was a lieutenant in the army of Al-Hejaz that was commanded by Sheriff Hussein who was fighting against the army led by King Abdulaziz in the region located between Taif and Holly Makkah.

Despite of such dispute occurred between Sheriff Hussein and King Abdulaziz which were peaceful; however, King Abdulaziz was keen on the qualified sons of the Arabian Peninsula as he made a haste to join Abdulsalaam Sarhan in capacity of pilot officer besides the other qualified persons from Al-Hejaz region for the purpose of development of the newborn state. Sheriff Hussein has received some of ( Di Havilland airplanes ) given by the British air forces in Egypt then they have been transported by the vessel (Tanta) that landed in the port of Jeddah in July 1921 AD. In this connection, Sheriff Hussein employed mercenaries - pilots from different countries including Belarus, Italy, and Greece.

The pilot, Abdulsalaam Sarhan, was thanked for location of sites of airports that have been constructed in the time of the founder king Abdulaziz Al-Saud around the vast kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He contributed over decades to development of civil aviation in Saud Arabia.

The Foremost Arabian Mission to Outer Space

His royal highness, Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud has made a historic voyage to space in 1985 AD that is regarded as the initial trial over the Arab world.

Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud is referred to as the first Saudi Arab astronaut who participated in the universal mission of the space shuttle called Discovery (STS-51-G) as the payload specialist.

He had a genuine experience in both civil and military aviation as he was the founder and chef of board of Saudi Aviation Club while he practiced civil aviation for more than three decades and he served for ten years in Saudi Royal Air force. His highness gained a huge quantities of local, Arab, and universal medals and decorations in recognition of his historic achievements including (Foulard of King Abdulaziz) , (Medal of Space from National Department of Aviation and Space, NASA), (Honorary Doctorate in science from University of King Fahd for Petroleum and Minerals) and (Star Medal and Great Ribbon of China) etc.

His Highness was born in Riyadh region in the middle of Saudi Arabia where he is recently positioned as President of Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA).

*Information extracted from the photos series of Arabian aviation history book for Dr. Saad Al Ahmed.

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