Lotfia ElNadi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Latifa El Nadi
لطيفة النادي.jpg
Born October 29, 1907
Cairo, Khedivate of Egypt
Died 2002 (aged 94–95)
Cairo, Egypt
Nationality Egyptian
Occupation Aviator
Known for One of the first female pilots in the world and the first Egyptian woman to fly a plane from Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt.

Latifa Elnadi (Arabic: لطفية النادي‎‎; October 29, 1907 – 2002) was an Egyptian aviator. She was the first African woman as well as the first Middle Eastern woman to earn a pilot's license.

Early life[edit]

Latifa Elnadi was born on 29 October 1907 into middle-class family of Cairo.[1][2] After completion of her primary education, it was expected that she would marry, becoming a housewife and mother. Her father, who worked for the government printing office, Matbaa Amiriya, saw no reason for ElNadi to pursue secondary education. Her mother encouraged her to attend the American College with its modern curriculum and focus as a language school.[3]

Elnadi read an article about a flying school which had just opened in Cairo and determined that she would attend, despite her father's objections. Initially she approached a journalist to assist her, but when he refused, she went directly to the director of EgyptAir, Kamal Elwi, asking for assistance. He saw the potential for publicity and agreed to help.[3] As Elnadi had no way to pay for the flying lessons, she worked as the secretary and telephone operator for the flying school in exchange for her tuition.[1]

Flying career[edit]

Telling her father that she was attending a bi-weekly study group, Elnadi instead took flight lessons,[2] along with 33 other male classmates.[1] When Elnadi earned her pilot’s licence, on 27 September 1933, she became the first African as well as Arab woman pilot in the world, after only 67 days of study. Initially her father was angry, but seeing the favorable press Elnadi received, his anger dissipated and he allowed her to take him on a flight over the pyramids.[3] Her achievement made headlines throughout the world.[4]

Latifa in a plane, 1933.
Latifa in a plane, 1933.

On 19 December 1933, Elnadi flew in the international race between Cairo and Alexandria. Flying at speeds averaging 100 miles per hour, she steered her single-engine plane to the finish-line before any of the other competitors. As she missed flying over one of the two tents located at midpoint of the course, which was required as part of the competition, Elnadi was not declared the winner. She received a consolation prize of 200 Egyptian pounds and the congratulations of King Fuad for her attempt. Huda Sha'arawi, a feminist leader, also sent salutations for the inspiration Elnadi provided and then held a fundraising drive to buy Elnadi a plane of her own. Elnadi worked as the secretary general of the Egyptian Aviation Club[3] and flew for about five years before she was injured in an accident which damaged her spine.[5]

Following Elnadi’s example, for around a decade other Egyptian woman attended flight training and became pilots. With the coming of the World War, no other women pilots trained after 1945, until Dina-Carole El Sawy, became a pilot for EgyptAir.[3]

Later life[edit]

After the flying accident, Elnadi, went to obtain medical treatment in Switzerland and remained there for many years.[3] In 1989, she was invited back to Cairo to participate in the 54th anniversary of civil aviation in the country, where she received the The Order of Merit of the Egyptian Organization of Aerospace Education.[5] In 1996, a documentary film, Take Off From the Sand, was produced telling her story.[4] In her 80's, she moved to Toronto to live with her nephew and his family, prominent Designer, Mahmoud Elnadi. She never married and died in Cairo in 2002.


In 2014, a Google Doodle celebrated her 107th birthday.[6]

In 2017, a Google Doodle honoured her on International Women's Day.[7]


  1. ^ a b c حكايات, يوستينا عطية (12 July 2016). "أول كابتن طيار" (in Egyptian). Cairo, Egypt: Tahrir News. Archived from the original on 17 December 2016. Retrieved 17 December 2016. 
  2. ^ a b McCloskey, Keith (2012). Airwork: A History. Stroud, Gloucestershire, England: History Press. p. 148. ISBN 978-0-7524-9459-3. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Habib, Nader (23 October 2014). "Once upon a time - She wanted to be free" (1218). Cairo, Egypt: Al-Ahram Weekly. Archived from the original on 16 December 2016. Retrieved 17 December 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Ayed, Nahlah (6 May 2013). "Nahlah Ayed: The renewed fight for women's rights in Egypt". Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 29 November 2015. Retrieved 17 December 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Cooper, Ann (November 1991). "Lotfia El Nadi—The First Woman Pilot in Egypt" (PDF). Ninety-Nine News. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Ninety-Nines: International Organization of Women Pilots. 17 (9): 5–6. Retrieved 17 December 2016. 
  6. ^ "Lotfia El Nadi's 107th Birthday". www.google.com. Retrieved 2017-03-08. 
  7. ^ "International Women's Day". Retrieved 2017-03-08.