Reem Al-kuthairi is the 1st female microlight pilot in Qatar. She obtained National Pilot License (NPPL) in microlight weight-shift control from the UK in 2014. She is not only the first Qatari female licenced in air sports but also a paramotor pilot. She was the first and only Qatari female to enter the air sports field until 2020. She joined the Qatari Flying Club in 2012. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and Sport Science from Qatar University. She has played for the Qatar National Handball team from 2001 to 2009 as a handball player. She has also worked with Aspire Zone Foundation. Let know more about her through her exclusive interview.
What was the hardest decision you ever had to make?
Reem: When I decided to travel all alone to the UK to train for my NPPL – the National Private Pilot License.
What is ultralight sport aviation?
Reem: Ultralight means very lightweight and, in aviation, any flying machine below the weight of 600kg is an ultralight or microlight aircraft which can carry 2 people max including the pilot. It’s a type of sport or recreational flying.
Is it safe to fly a microlight?
Reem: It’s very safe as studies show that aviation is the safest mean of transport and that applies to microlight aircraft as well. It’s always safe if we never skip the regular checks specially pre-flight checks and when we follow the air law and regulations.
Landing without an engine is very safe and we get training on landing aircraft without an engine and learn how to react to all situations as part of our training and final flying test.
An emergency landing is now like a piece of cake for pilots and, in Qatar, we have no difficulty landing anywhere in the desert because it’s a light aircraft that’s easy to land and take off from almost anywhere.
How does it feel to be the owner of the first aircraft registered for a female in Qatar?
Reem: I was told about this while I was in contact with Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) to get my aircraft papers ready and get it registered. I remember the guy telling me. Wow! Do you own this aircraft? Do you fly it? And, I was like yes. And, then he said, do you know that you are the first Qatari female to own an aircraft registered with QCAA? And, I was like ok. So? He said you should be proud of it!! It was then that I realised that this was something very special. I felt so proud of myself!
How did you develop a passion for flying?
Reem: I’m an adventurer, love travelling and trying extreme sports wherever I go. So, I discovered this field on my first tandem paragliding in France in 2008. And, I knew then from the moment I took off that this was it! This is what I want to specialise in and get the license.I am always looking for paragliding activities wherever I travel. I did it in the US, UK, Switzerland, France again, and Turkey.
What’s the best thing about flying?
Reem: The feeling of freedom, the amazing views you get to see, the breeze, the feeling of calm and if you want you can get the adrenaline pumping by doing some manoeuvres within safety, of course. It’s all amazing and no one can feel it unless they try it.
What are your favourite places in Qatar to fly?
Reem: One of my very favourite types of flying is night flying on a fixed-wing aircraft over Lusail, Katara, and the Westbay skyscrapers and then landing at Doha Airport. Doha looks spectacular especially from above at night! I really admire these views!
I love flying with my microlight over Al Khor, especially:
- over the Al Bayt Stadium, where the 2022 FIFA World Cup opening game will take place.
- Over the Purple Island and Al Thakira.
I also like flying in the north of Qatar:
- Over the Simaisma Beach, Fuwairit Beach and Fuwairit Mountain.
- Over the Ras Rakan island in Al Ruwais.
In the south of Qatar, I like flying over the dunes with my paramotor over the Sealine Beach.
What’s the best part of what you do?
Reem: My microlight is an open cockpit aircraft so it gives you the feeling of a free bird. I can fly high or fly as low as 50ft along the beach; you can land and take off from anywhere as long as it’s safe and allowed because it doesn’t require a long runway, it’s safer than anyone may think as long as the pilot is safe, knows the limitation of the aircraft and follows the regulations.
The same goes with paramotor flying. Plus in paramotor flying, I love the feeling of being fully physically engaged from the moment I wear my engine, get my wing and prepare for flying, launch the wing, kite it and then run to take off. It gives you more feeling of flying like a bird and I love the feeling of landing on my feet.
Also, I encourage other people to try these activities, like my brother, for instance. He joins me a lot in my activities and I encourage him to try all kinds of adventures that I do, including flying.
Who is your inspiration?
Reem: My Dad is my biggest inspiration, and in my field, all the instructors I have trained with, have inspired me.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Reem: That Reem was a handball player with the first-ever Qatari female handball team. The first in the Middle East in the microlight sport aviation field. The first female to own an aircraft registered by the QCAA. Inspiring others to join this field especially females. One of the very few people in the world who flies a microlight aircraft over the snow with skis rather than wheels which is a very advanced flying technique that requires special training to land and take off on very short slopes and flying for more than 13000ft. Flying different types of microlight aircraft like gyrocopters and fixed-wing. A paramotor pilot who has been sponsored as a team pilot with the world-recognised Fly BGD, one of the best glider manufacturers in the world.
What do you consider to be your career highlight?
Reem: I have worked with Aspire in the sport and fitness field since 2008. I also got international qualifications done in Qatar and abroad in fitness and coaching.
What mistakes have you made along the way?
Reem: Not really mistakes. But at the beginning, I was very worried because this field is not easy and could be dangerous and I was wondering, am I doing this for real? Would I ever be able to land this aircraft and communicate with radars and airports on my own like airline pilots? And many other questions that could demotivate anyone at the beginning of any journey, but I realised that the more I think the slower is the progress. So, I learned not to listen to any negative thoughts or even people and focus on my goal.
What is the best advice you can give young flyers?
Reem: As mentioned earlier: never listen to your negative thoughts of why am I doing this. Never listen to any negative people around you. If it’s your passion it will be the best thing to do for yourself. Focus and always imagine being up there!
If you could start all over again, what would you do differently?
Reem: I would’ve started even earlier in this field.
How would you describe yourself?
Reem: A high flyer and ambitious recreational athlete.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
Reem: Socialising and gathering with friends and family. Workouts, flying and checking the weather to plan my flying for the whole week. I’m currently training on a new type of ultralight aircraft.
What skills should someone in your field have?
Reem: It will all become second nature before you know it. However, when training, the hardest thing any student would find is the landing because it takes time to get the feeling and knowing exactly where the ground is.
In microlight aviation, about five theory subjects, Radiotelephony license to be able to communicate in aviation English, at least level 4 in English, the medical test, and the required minimum of 25 flying hours.
In paramotor, it’s much easier to learn and very affordable as compared to other flying types. Thus, the requirements are easier and the student should be ready in a week or less for the first solo flying. You’d need to learn kiting the wing and carrying the light engine on the back like a backpack.
What are you most passionate about?
Reem: All kinds of flying, meteorology, fitness and sports.
What do you think are the secrets behind getting to where you are?
Reem: Insisting on reaching my goals. The support of my family, especially my Dad, before he died. He was my biggest supporter and took me with him for training since the time I was nine-years-old or less. He also taught me how not to be afraid and to face my fears. So, I grew up with these concepts in mind and applied them in all the extreme sports I did and also when I decided to get into the aviation field.
What are your hobbies, favourite foods, favourite travel destination?
Reem: I love adventure and try extreme sports. I love skiing and I developed this skill in particular over the last four years as I was travelling yearly to practice microlight flying over the Alps in France and the only way to reach the airport and go back to the resort is by skiing on a blue slope.
I like healthy foods; being healthy and in shape is very important to me.
I love travelling and discovering new places, especially where I could be in an active mode and where I can fly. However, one of my favourite destinations is France where I can find the best activities and fly all around the country.
Tell us something about yourself a few people or no one knows about you.
Reem: I love cats. I have two cats: a Scottish fold short hair and a British short hair. I miss them a lot when I stay out for a long time.
I have a green car, green aircraft, green paramotor and the wing is mostly green. Everyone knows about this. However, green is my second favourite colour after blue, and that’s why most people can’t believe I have everything painted green.
I love high tech and smart living styles; my bedroom is automated.
I love customising my belongings like I did with my car and my aircraft with all the detailing.
I love sports cars with interiors that look similar to aeroplane cockpits.
Follow Reem on her different platforms:
- Website: https://aeroventuresqatar.com/
- Instagram: @reemhk_qtr
- Twitter: @Romeo_rj83
- Youtube: Reem Al Kuthairi