Muscat: One of the most dangerous jobs in the world is what soldiers do, that is, defending their own country on the ground. But even riskier is to do that in the air. Today’s Oman Pride features a former operational pilot of the Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO).
For Said Al Ismaily, flying for the RAFO was an honour and not a job. He was among the first batch of five Omani pilots to fly with the RAFO in 1975.
“Flying is more about aptitude than anything else,” he says.
“I joined the RAFO pilot stream to defend my country. I never looked at it as a job but rather as an honour to serve the Sultanate,” said Al Ismaily, now a managing partner at the Centre of International Learning.
Pilots joining the RAFO have to go through a painstaking selection process which includes, but is not limited to, “distinguishing yourself and your ability in leadership and professional studies,” Al Ismaily pointed out.
“I first underwent basic training in the UK and then came the role conversion to be an operational pilot in Oman,” said the retired Wing Commander.
As the Times of Oman asked Al Ismaily if he was involved in any missions abroad such as in the First Gulf War, he simply offered regrets for his inability to share that information, saying it was confidential. All that he said was that “we carried out a lot of missions offering close air support to the ground forces.”
“My most memorable moment was whenever I completed my sortie and saw that I had contributed usefully to the service of Oman,” Al Ismaily added.
Some youth often admire fighter pilots and the idea of flying military aircraft as well as the notion of going in for dogfights and risking their lives for the safety of the country.
“I want to encourage such young Omanis who have the right aptitude and attitude for flying to join the RAFO and contribute their services for Oman,” said Al Ismaily.
He further added, “This is a field where they will have an opportunity to not only be trained to fly the sophisticated aircraft at the RAFO, but also have a chance to evolve as people with a wholesome personality and become a good citizen.”