By Javid Hassan, Arab News Staff
Publication Date: 
Tue, 2001-07-24 03:59

RIYADH, 24 July  — Prince Sultan ibn Salman, chairman of the Supreme Commission for Tourism, announced yesterday the launch of the Kingdom’s first flying club that will encourage flying, hot air balloon rides and paragliding as hobbies among Saudis and expatriates.

Addressing a press conference here, Prince Sultan ibn Salman, who has been named the chairman of the club, said the project proposed some three years ago had the approval of Prince Sultan, second deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation. Prince Sultan will be the chief patron of the club, which will operate within regulations approved by the Ministry of Defense and Aviation.

Besides promoting aviation as a hobby, the club will run a school to teach flying. Prince Sultan ibn Salman said the club was examining whether to set up its own school or allow an overseas flying school to run it on its behalf. The students graduating from the school would receive a license recognized by the Federal Aviation Authority of the US.  Prince Sultan said the club would hold seminars and attend air fairs, both local and international, to keep abreast of developments in the civil aviation field. It will also make use of the Internet to develop contacts with other aviation clubs around the world.

The club would support gifted students interested in making aviation their career. To this end, an awareness campaign will be launched in some major Saudi and international schools. As for its finances, contributions would come from the board members, besides donations, income from royalties, investments and sponsorship of events by commercial organizations. The Supreme Commission for Tourism will manage the funds until when the club can operate on its own.

Members of the board include Prince Bandar ibn Saud ibn Khaled, Prince Bandar ibn Khaled Al-Faisal, Prince Turki ibn Abdullah, Shoura Council member Dr. Ziad A. Al-Sudairy and Ahmad Abdulkhader Jazzar of the Saudi Arabian Airlines. Bakr ibn Muhammad bin Ladin, Khaled ibn Musa’ad Al-Saif, Sa’ad ibn Fahad Al-Wallan, Muhammad Ali Al-Hamrani and Abdulrahman ibn Rashid Al-Rashid will represent the private sector on the board, which will also have a representative from the Presidency of Civil Aviation.

Earlier, Sa’ad Al-Wallan, the board member and himself a licensed pilot, told Arab News that Prince Sultan ibn Salman flew the Citation X, the fastest business jet, at a speed of Mach .92, the equivalent of 1,000 kmph. Al-Wallan, president of Al-Wallan Aviation, agents for Cessna Citation and other business jets in the Cessna family, said the prince also attended a static show of these aircraft at the private aviation terminal at the King Khaled International Airport.

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