In our first ever episode we speak to Ali Al Wahabi, who has just retired from an amazing 40 year career as a pilot. Most notably, Ali flew as Saddam Hussein's Presidential Pilot in Iraq. We hear his incredible stories which eventually led to him escaping with his life and his dignity intact.
You can read all about Ali's life in his book Farewell Brave Babylon. If you'd like to get your hands on an electronic copy of his book, get in touch here: www.pilotbase.com/podcast-s01e01.
We hope you enjoy the show. Remember to subscribe to our channel and leave us a review. Thanks!
Ben Hall 0:06
Hello, and welcome to the pilot based podcast. I'm Ben and I've been a pilot for over a decade.
Dave Rogers 0:11
And I'm Dave categorically not a pilot.
Ben Hall 0:14
Every Monday we'll be chatting to both pilots and non pilots with amazing aviation stories from all around the world. You can find all episodes of the pilot based podcast for free wherever you get your podcasts. If you like what you're hearing, subscribe to our channel and leave us a review.
Dave Rogers 0:28
And episode one we meet Ali Al Wahhabi, recently retired after a 14 year career that even by a pilot standards is seen some extraordinary experiences including a period as Saddam Hussein's presidential pilot. There's much much more of as well. He's a great guy, and a great storyteller. And here he is.
Ali, welcome. Thank you so much for joining us. How are you? And where is the world are you?
Ali Al Wahabi 0:58
I'm actually in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Right now. And thank you for having me. I just want to say a very short word, initially, a warm and sincere greetings to all of you in the pilot community. And my heart really goes out to all the pilots who have been made redundant and to their families. This crisis has been unprecedented
in the whole history of aviation, they've really, really very challenging time.
Dave Rogers 1:34
Well, very heartfelt words there. And I know that that the band is one of the victims. So we like to say victims of the circumstance.
And I know that that aviation is it's it's almost like a calling. It's something that that people dream of doing from a young age. So when something like this happens, and it gets taken away from you, that must hit you quite hard. I mean, Ben will come to you afterwards. But we'll hear from Ali first this, these are heartfelt words, this must be hitting you hard as well.
Ali Al Wahabi 2:09
It has but I have finished my career as an active pilot in July, this year 2020. And I am currently what they call as an SFI and EASA SFI freelancer, as well as a simulator evaluator, and lead CRM instructor, I've been a mentor based trainer in the past tiare IRE, sorry TRE TRI. And on the a 320, as well as on the a 330. I'm a published author of several books, please do forgive me, I don't really want to give you the impression that I'm bragging about myself. But because of the I felt I need to tell you that because of the theme of this webinar is based on my autobiography book called Farewell, brave Babylon. That was published in 2006 in Hong Kong, and I followed it in 2016 by a textbook, which is a non technical book, if you like a CRM book, which is called the creative art of flying, and to his memory, together with my friend and colleague, Captain Charles Montgomery, who passed away unfortunately a couple of years ago. So that is who I am.
Dave Rogers 3:53
So now your your active piloting career is over. Does this mean you become a full time author? Finally?
Ali Al Wahabi 4:02
Finally, yes. I love writing. I do have as I said, the synthetic flight instructor from iasa I still could do the a 320 training as well as mentoring in addition to writing it's just in me I love writing. I really do. Yep.
Dave Rogers 4:25
So Ben, just just a little bit of background on on your relationship with Ali then and of course I want to hear about your your flying situation and how much you're missing it but you to go back a few years.
Ben Hall 4:39
Yes, I've known Allie for 11 years now I guess. So I joined Etihad Airways on a cadet scheme with them. So basically, you didn't need any flying and they would sort of take you on board. Do all your training for you and then give you a job in a jet. And Ali's son Omar happened to be on the same course as me. And then when we got to Abu Dhabi, Ali basically acts as a father for all of us international expats because I mean, there was 12 of us from all over the world. A lot of them have never been to the UAE before. A lot of them have never been to the Middle East before. And we've kind of thrown into the situation, which is very, very foreign to a lot of us. And Ali was basically everything you would ever need. So he was kind of a father figure. He was obviously a established like, very well esteem pilot, so he could give us a lot of tips along our training. But it was also kind of a fixer as well. We kind of got stuff done for us in in Abu Dhabi. So without Ali, our first year in the UAE, the UAE would have been very, very different, I think.
Dave Rogers 5:54
And when you first met, and the the sort of story started to come through about the life that he'd led before, you'd all met him before he'd become this this father figure. And that must have come as quite a surprise. Quite a quite an interesting shock.
Ben Hall 6:12
Yeah, I mean, it didn't come out straight away at all, because Okay, oh, Omar and Ali are both very sort of modest, sort of relaxed people. So it wasn't like Omar was bragging about it or anything. So I guess it kind of just organically came out over the first couple of years that we knew him. And then everybody got a copy of his book. And obviously, everybody read the book and very quickly understood what an interesting life at least.
Dave Rogers 6:40
Well, it has been an interesting life. Let's let's concentrate on the piloting side of things. Am I correct in thinking that you became a commercial pilot at 19? Ali, that seems incredibly young.
Ali Al Wahabi 6:55
Yes, absolutely. David, and I wish I was a pilot when I was 10. Yeah, and 19 I was living in a district in Baghdad, where our house was located on the final approach of aeroplanes coming in, and the noise that aeroplane the white count and the Trident used to make it was music to my ears, and I wanted to be a pilot since I was like 10, even before that, and what really added to the interest is that whenever we go to the airport, and I wasn't my teenagers, aged like 1516, and I see all those lovely girls, the minute the, the the violets, they come with their uniforms, just like they, they were so attracted to them. And I said, Oh, that's, that's a very short way to, you know, to gain the hearts of those young girls. So to be very frank, it's a combination of both. It's the freedom that the, the, the aeroplane meant to me. And it's a relatively short ish sort of study. So what else? We when we were sent to Oxford, I was 19. And he said about one and a half years in Kidlington in, in Oxford, and then we got our commercial pilot licence. And that's how it all started actually.
Ben Hall 8:30
Surely we will you want to cadet scheme did did Iraqi airways pay for your training? Was that Hello?
Ali Al Wahabi 8:35
Yeah, absolutely. What happened then is that iraq airways had a lot of experts when I say a lot, it's really the size of the airline was only 11 aeroplanes, but they had different nationalities. And when the they nationalised the oil companies in Iraq, they wanted to see the Cowboys being recruited by Iraqi pilots. And that's where they advertised for the cadetship. Remember that the number they wanted initially is something like 20 pilots. And we were 5000 applicants in that case, and that was my first disappointment because any iraq you need to have what is what we call wassa. wassa is an interest section sort of thing that somebody has, from higher up that he will command your name in order to be accepted. So the second time when I went to apply, I was armed with Alaska, and, and through this was actually the first lady of Iraq, intercede on my behalf and God bless her wherever she is, and I became accepted in the cadetship and floss July 1975 when I left back to London.
Dave Rogers 10:03
And Was that your first time in the UK?
Ali Al Wahabi 10:06
That was my first time in the UK? Absolutely.
Dave Rogers 10:09
How did how did you find it very different culturally?
Ali Al Wahabi 10:13
Well, lovely. I mean really disappointed initially because in a lark, we must teenagers, we used to pump ourselves up having an old sort of brown skin. They said, once you land over there, all the girls will have a queue on you. And I went over there and nobody gets you know, they didn't spend some time until I actually I was introduced to my very first girlfriend god bless her. She's she passed away, unfortunately from the UK, but yeah, beautiful weather. Very nice, friendly people. Of course. It's totally different. It's an eye opener. For me,
Dave Rogers 10:55
I love the fact that we are finding out so much about you already. The fact that you became a pilot, so you could meet women. I mean, I just learned guitar University, it was a lot easier.
Ali Al Wahabi 11:08
I've got to be very, very frank to you. Honestly, I love aeroplanes. I love flying. Don't get me wrong. But I one of my saying actually in the the creative art of flying, there are those who live to fly and others who fly to live. Iraq in the wise ones are those who enjoy both. So I'm trying to I try to enjoy both aspects.
Dave Rogers 11:37
How did your first Well, in fact, what was your What was your first job? After that, then was it was it all plain sailing? Did you go to the cadetship? Did you pass and you got that initial job that you were supposed to get?
Ali Al Wahabi 11:50
Yeah, absolutely. We we've I finished in 1976. And I went back to Baghdad, and I was working as a first officer on the 737 200. And I stayed in Iraq for 10 years. Three years after my first position as a first officer on the 737, then they put me on the 747 as a co pilot. And while I was on the 747 as a co pilot, I got to know that the gentleman and very esteemed and very close of friends of mine, he was a captain then. And that person happened to be the one who used to play tennis with the late president of Iraq. And they decided to go ahead and buy a presidential aeroplane because saddam used to use the rocky Royce fleet whenever he goes, you know, go he didn't really travel much. But yeah, so this gentleman approached me and he said, I put your name down as one of the presidential pilots. And of course, it's also a great honour. So the the official crews, they were we were only three sets of crews, three captains, three first officers and three Flight Engineers. And I was one of them. Then
Dave Rogers 13:18
Ali Al Wahabi 13:20
why me? is a good one. And again, you see it's my relationship with the gentleman who was sat down friend was very close, close in the sense that we used to go out together on a lay overs, and he's somehow considered me like his younger brother. And I wasn't really that bad as a pilot as well, which I think that would add to the recipe. And then he said, you're going to be one of them. But before that, of course, you had to go through a very rigorous sort of a check from the intelligence services or from the securities apparatuses in Iraq or from the police or from the party, you name it. It took six months until they cleared my name. And they said yes, he is okay. Having said that, of course, the minute. I was very excited, of course, as I said, very proud. And as it turned up to be actually to us, and not what I was expecting, because my life really, really changed upside down since.
Dave Rogers 14:30
So in those early days, of course, the name Saddam Hussein now is synonymous with all kinds of things. But that's in 2020. When you initially got that job, what was the the sort of public opinion in Iraq of Saddam Hussein and the government and just the the sort of general feeling in the country at the time.
Ali Al Wahabi 14:55
Most of their luck is they were very pro saddam. He had a very charismatic sort of figure, he did a lot of good things to Iraq, even though that I do have my disagreements with many of his policies. But who is me to say that, of course. For example, education in Iraq was a free, medical care was free, you will have a job once you finished your University, University, as I said, it was free. There was no poverty in Iraq, per se. Absolutely not, even though because the payment itself, I mean, me as a pilot, I wasn't really paid that well, however, but it was more than enough to live in Iraq. So saddam with his charisma and what he has done to the agriculture to the oil industry, and he was building a lot of stuff, things like hospitals or schools, he was very good. He was doing very good the road net networks, name it, it was all there. Unfortunately, with the nationalisation of the oil companies, Iraq, it started to generate a lot of money. And that money was coming. Three things you cannot take away from saddam, he's very courageous. He did not steal, he didn't need to steal anything. And in his own way, he loved Iraq, to the degree that he destroyed it. You know, that's, that is fact that you cannot take away from him However, he had. And he was very heavy handed with his, the treatment to many. And as long as you don't touch his seat of power, you're okay. But the minute you start doing that, then it's a different story. Then came the iraq iran war. And in 1978, that was the crucial year in Iraq history where we either go into the civil side, and they were projecting that iraq could have been one of the developed country. Instead, unfortunately, he was ill advised, and he ended up in getting a lot of arms from whoever was selling arms, and he was armed to his teeth. And unfortunately, the country started to go downhill from that onwards. The to be one of his pilots, or one of his presidential crew, was not easy, because my telephone was blocked, whenever I went, I was followed. And those people of course, they are not friendly at all the way they used to conduct themselves. And the crucial fact came when they wanted me to do a very immoral act. And against a colleague, female colleague of mine, where I, if you decline, that, that means the end of my career. If you say, yes, you sell yourself to the devil. And that's what I decided to actually jump ship in the UK. On the eighth of July 1986, I flew the later presidents of Iraq three times, as I said, very, very charismatic, very powerful figure. And you could feel his persona. And one of the flights been a known fact, actually, I just want to make a Google of it. He was sitting behind the captain were the flight engineer sitting next to him. And of course, the captain in front and the first officer on the right. And they were approaching, approaching Baghdad during sunset, and the flight engineer wanted to make some brownie points with the president. He said, Sir, back that looks beautiful at night. He looked at him with a gaze could split them into two. And he told him back that looks beautiful day and night. And of course, that guy, he didn't sleep for three nights when we used to tease him about big data during dawn in the afternoon and things like that. Yeah. So that's that's kind of things which unfortunately, went on in Iraq.
Dave Rogers 19:44
But just so we're, we're clear, then obviously, it didn't end the way you'd have liked it to. But when you first got that job, it was a it was a huge honour for you to be selected.
Ali Al Wahabi 19:56
Dave Rogers 19:58
How long were you in that job before you stopped feeling that way?
Ali Al Wahabi 20:06
from a key to three to about one and a half years, I started really distancing my I tried, but you can't because you've been selected that's it. It's it's, it's a, he's been stomped as they say, and there is no way I could get get out of it if I do reason unless it's got to be illness. And I then was, of course, single in my late 20s. Seeing the iraq iran war, the way it was progressing, unfortunately, with so many innocent people were killed from both sides. Unfortunately, seeing the country going downhill that's very rich country in oil and soil and history. I just didn't like it. I said, time for me to go. I couldn't go beforehand, because I was very attached to my late father, God bless his soul. And when he passed away, I said, That's it, I'm going to do it. And okay, my mother. She was the only one but I have a brother who looked after her. And so I decided that's it specially if they'll they told me what happens in there. You see the they told me that they are not so sure about my loyalties. They said, and the reason for that because I don't have a portrait of the president in my house. Honestly, that was the unwritten rule that you declare your loyalty to the to the regime. And I used to lie and so I'm making one in Bangkok, I'm making one in Frankfurt, and all the same, but they knew it. They said, Well, enough of that we need really to just you just to prove your loyalty. And I thought, well, that's fantastic. Okay, well, I'm ready to prove it to you. Unfortunately, as I said, they wanted something which was immortal. Like, I cannot do it. And I said, Okay, so give me time to think they said, How long do you need? I said, a month, they said, You have one week. And, and in that week, I, as I said, I managed to because I was a captain on a 737. And I was the first officer on the 747. At the same time, just to keep our licence current to fly the presidential flight. So we were allowed to have one flight a month, where we could request it from Iraq Airways, and we will go there, what is called under supervision, somebody else will be supervising you or another colleague of yours. First Officer. So I've requested to fly to London, and that's how I jumped ship. The UK?
Dave Rogers 22:58
Did you ever feel in danger? And if you did, was it a Was it a frequent thing?
Ali Al Wahabi 23:03
What do you mean, then?
Dave Rogers 23:05
Ali Al Wahabi 23:06
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. You don't know. I mean, I'm you can't really blame him all the time. No, but the the the way the intelligence services, the security apparatus, the secret police and what have you, if he doesn't like your face? And he will say, Okay, well, David, we saw him with such and such it's happened many times. And I was called into the, into the palace asking, I was asked, we saw you in such and such place with such and such person. They said, Yeah, well, she's my girlfriend, and she is in that was in Rio de Janeiro. And they said, well, is she pro or anti Iraq? I said, she doesn't even know what Iraq is, for goodness sake, literally, she just didn't. So that kind of things which came from those people were more dangerous than than saddam himself. I shouldn't mean was a dumb Who am I? I'm an audio pilot. It's not a big deal for him. But those people, they were the real source of threats, as we say, and I'm jumping forwards a little bit now.
Dave Rogers 24:12
But when did when did you stop feeling like you're in danger? When did life start to feel
Ali Al Wahabi 24:21
like about five years after I left, I used to, I used to dream. Not a dream. It's a nightmare, literally, that I was put in and I wake up when my wife next to me and I would have been in a sweat. Of course. This continued for five years as if someone has put me in a sock and throw me in an aeroplane and I find myself in Baghdad and people are waiting to execute me and things like that. It was really that severe and it took me five years literally just to get rid of this and start be normal.
Dave Rogers 25:01
So London is where you
Ali Al Wahabi 25:04
London? Yep.It's what I jumpship Yeah, yeah.
Dave Rogers 25:08
So so you How was it it? Was it a decision that you made? You were like, right. I'm in London. This is where I can get out, or was it something that you secretly planned for quite some time?
Ali Al Wahabi 25:19
No, I see. Could be blunt that for quite some time I do have. I did have my half brother. He was established in the UK. And he promised to help me out. And he had in some sort of magazine. And he wasn't in a predictable predictor. He predicts things. And by the way, like, he has this magazine, which deals with supernatural, let's say, and he had a lot of contacts. And he said, I will secure you a job and one of the Arabic countries and this and that, but when I jumped ship, and I went to him, and he said, No, the time is not good for you to deal with now. But I've decided I can't go back. And I said, Well, I'll stay. And he said, Well, the only way for you to stay is to ask for political asylum. I said, I can't do that. The reason I can't do that it's I love the country. I love my country. I mean, nothing against the country to something which I personally felt that I should go. And I said, No, I'm not going to do that. He said, If you don't do that, you are going to have a trouble. And sure enough, because as a crew, you are only entitled in London for seven days, because we didn't have visa crew visa, then mine was delayed. And they told me, they said, you either go back to Iraq, or go somewhere else. And I had to call my girlfriend and my wife now of course, and she came to rescue me from from Germany. So I left to Germany. And that's where we got married and stayed with us for about eight months. In, in Berlin, and they were looking for me the secret police. And they wanted me to go back by any means, of course. But I knew that if I did that I would have been executed on the spot. Wow, what? Yeah.
Dave Rogers 27:28
Was there any part of you that thought I should go back and face the music? Or was that just not an option? At any point?
Ali Al Wahabi 27:39
I went through a very weak periods because I couldn't work for eight months. And during that period, I thought of giving it a try and go back, maybe they will forgive me. And I even wanted to work as in McDonald's as a worker. They said, No, you can't because you don't speak German. So my wife was working and she wasn't providing. And I was feeling really, really down. And I thought that's it. I'm going to do it. The minute I went to the Iraq airways office in Frankfort, I was going to I had a friend of mine very close friends of mine. Just coming out of the office, he saw me and he said, What are you doing here? I said, Well, I'm just going to go and asked him for a ticket to go back to Iraq. He said, I'm glad that I saw you Come on, go, go go. I said, Well, what's what's going on? So he told me that they were actually expecting you. And the outcome if you go, it is not good. And that was confirmed about a day later, through another friend of mine, he called me he said, we we've heard that you wanted to come? That will be the greatest mistake you could ever do in your life. Don't do it. So I waited for a job. And finally, the job came an interview actually came from Atlanta. And the interview was in London again. So I went to see the the chief pilot in of air Malta, a Pakistani guy and London. He said after asking a couple of questions, and he said, well, we'll let you know. Luckily, after about two months, he said, Yeah, come and join our Malta went in April 1987. to Malta for two years.
Dave Rogers 29:31
Were you ever kind of reluctant to take another pilot's job? Did you ever think that that would be a risk that you'd be vulnerable because of your history in the air?
Ali Al Wahabi 29:43
No, not really not. Initially, yes. If it was another third world country, I would think twice but no, not really on the country. Actually. It's It was a very rewarding sort of job for me initially our motto for two years and dragon here in Hong Kong for 11 years in Korean Air for eight years and that's what I published the Pharaoh of Babylon. And then it had for 12 years No, it was very rewarding actually can't can't complain about it.
Dave Rogers 30:17
Do you remember that first flight? Cuz you'd been months out of the sky? How did it feel the first time you were back in control for air Malta, and you were back in the sky? How did that feel for you?
Ali Al Wahabi 30:30
It was really mixed feeling of feeling yourself because you start doubting yourself, you haven't flown for about eight months or so. And everything really depends on your performance in the in the training, and at the same time. If you boss then you are reborn again. And so the feeling of the good feeling was more than the otherwise it was good.
Dave Rogers 31:02
So run me through the the places you've been since you said air, Malta, Dragon air,
Ali Al Wahabi 31:09
Korean Air Korean Air and Etihad airways which is in the Abu Dhabi, which I retired while I was working with them in July. This year.
Dave Rogers 31:22
That's quite a career.
Ali Al Wahabi 31:24
Yeah, it's 45 years. That's literally 45 years. 10 years with Iraqi airways two years with the air Malta 11 years of blogging. He had eight years with Korean and 12 years old at heart. I love it.
Ben Hall 31:36
In the sky. How many hours do you have in total?
Ali Al Wahabi 31:39
24 or 24,500 hours in the sky?
Dave Rogers 31:47
How many have you got Ben?
Ben Hall 31:50
I've got about four and a half. 1000.
Ali Al Wahabi 31:52
Yeah, you still have 20 to go? Yes.
Dave Rogers 31:59
Goodness me. You've been awfully quiet there in the corner. Bernie. All right.
Ben Hall 32:04
I'm great. I'm just enthralled by Ali's stories. I mean, example. I'm just thinking about those five years after landing in London. It must have sorry, yeah, it must be really scary. Just always watching your back and just not knowing you know, who's following you what you can do no way to plan for your future. It's just amazing. Oh,
Ali Al Wahabi 32:28
that's right. Yes. It's just like, I mean, the world is open. The only place which really scares me, of course, is my own country. Unfortunately, as I said, because of the way things they they run things over there. But after five years, they chose to leave me alone. Because they thought if they do something like to my family back in Iraq, that I might end up, go to the press and say things which I know about. And I didn't go to the press because I fear that things might happen to my family over there. So it's not like unwritten mutual agreement, hidden one between me and then that we leave him alone, he will leave us alone. And that's what had happened. I'm assuming you've been back to Iraq. Since? No, how was that for you? No, no, no, I, when I woke up I flew with here. I went as a normal flight, which is just to transit 45 minutes and back. And I never went back to Iraq and stayed over there. No, I, especially after what had happened in Iraq and the way things went even worse than what was before. During saddam era. Now it is hundreds of times worse than than what it was. And because of the sectarian sort of animosity over there. I have a very strange name. It's Ali Hussain Ali Al Wahhabi, the very first three names. It's very one of the sex favourite name and then comes into a hobby, which is very, the opposite to that. So both parties, I think they will enjoy killing me if I go over there. That was my impression then. But they said now it is okay. I mean, everybody could go over there, but I don't. I just don't feel comfortable actually to go there. No.
Dave Rogers 34:32
Going back to that period of time in London, where you jumped ship, as you put it. If you saw somebody who may have been of Iraqi heritage, did you sort of feel paranoid when you when you saw him? Did you actively avoid people?
Ali Al Wahabi 34:50
Absolutely not. On the contrary, Oh, wow. Okay. On the contrary, on the contrary, because I almost sure that whoever is outside Iraq is for good reason, maybe very much similar to my reasons, but I will avoid areas where they're, you know, they like embassies and stuff like that. And consulate No, I wouldn't I wouldn't go there but to see someone in a restaurant and Iraqi restaurant No, No, No, on the contrary, and I have many friends actually in their occupants. Good.
Dave Rogers 35:19
And what about the present day? Then you said that you retired in July 24,500 hours? all manner of planes flown people safely transported incredible stories. Is there anything else that you still want to achieve in aviation? Or is it if
Ali Al Wahabi 35:43
you could go out of obligation as they say, but you can't get aviation out of you? For sure. It's, it's an A love love affair as, as they say, Dave? Yeah, what I want, the closest that I could go to is really training people in the simulator. Mentoring people. And writing about it, I have a lot of topics which I could touch on in writing itself. And that's how I would keep myself with with the with the aviation location, is that the aspect you think you've most enjoyed in terms of aviation, that this sort of training and mentoring, cybersecurity? Absolutely, is to give the information that I have, or share it with the others, it really gives me a tremendous joy. It's not because I know better not because I went through that before you that I would like to share it with you. There are many misconceptions about training, it's training is the art of giving information, how you give it, how humble you are in giving that piece of information to your colleagues, your your, your your cadets, to the trainees, and that's what I enjoy most. I really, really do. Absolutely.
Ben Hall 37:10
So Dave, just be your benefit. Yeah. in aviation, you get a huge spectrum of different types of people. And obviously, that filters down to instructors as well. And as a trainee amount you learn is amazing how much it depends on just the style, it's delivered in Yeah. And he's actually trained me on a number of flights. And it's just one of those situations where you feel really comfortable. And you, he sort of encourages confidence in your ability. And, you know, just find your weak areas and tries to improve it rather than just telling you off or being rubbish, which has happened before.
Dave Rogers 37:54
With regards to that, then how proud were you when your son followed you into the cockpit? And did you ever try and encourage him to do something else? Or was that always the plan?
Ali Al Wahabi 38:08
Very beautiful question, actually. We moved from Hong Kong to Australia, where we had our PR, and Omar. My son had a very comfort, comfortable life in Hong Kong. So when we took him to Australia, he didn't like it. He was 10 years old. And I wanted to bribe him. And in Australia, you could actually start flying doesn't really matter how old you are. I mean, he was 10. And I was told by his instructor, then he said, Ali, you could actually he can accumulate his hours while he's 10 years old, what?
He could accumulate his hours when it comes to the commercial pilot licence. He could, he'll be credited, I said, fantastic. So I thought a lot about so he went, he liked it. And then he started to fly in Australia at the age of 10. By the age of 17, he got his CCP Cpl. And of course, he had a full licence by then, which is brilliant. And he had his solo. And he said, No, that's it. That's what he wants to do. And then he had came and they had this beautiful cadet scheme. And the first one he he wasn't successful. The second one he managed to get in. And luckily he became a pilot. But one thing I regret that I never had the chance actually to fly with him in, in, in the aeroplane, because it would have been a conflict of interest, so to speak, so I didn't have the chance. Then they removed that restriction. So the father could fly with his son, but I never flew with him. But I've heard about him. I mean, Ben's batch was one of the very best batches actually, very good pilots. They all love the their job and they did a brilliant job. Yeah. So yeah,
Ben Hall 40:03
I'm gonna say that just because I'm on the call.
Dave Rogers 40:09
Wow, do you think you can be a pilot? Without loving it?
Ali Al Wahabi 40:15
Yeah, I mean, I know many. Okay, they really don't like it, it's just a means to an
Ben Hall 40:24
waterway. So it is a weird one though, because especially sort of commercial airliners, it is a lifestyle, it's you know, you have to work in the middle of the night and go to places that you really don't want to be going. And, you know, you missed birthdays and Christmases. So, I mean, I don't want to compare it to the military, because the military has a lot more sacrifices than pilots. But it's the same kind of thing that you kind of owned by the company a little bit. So in my experience, I've found that people that don't really really love it drop out quite quickly. So Ali, your, your ethos in life is all about sort of peace and harmony and making people better people. So I would just love to hear your advice for pilots live a happy and fulfilled life, really, because I think a lot of pilots, you know, it's very easy to sit in the cockpit and look, that Oh, that airline gets paid a bit more and their rosters a bit better. And, you know, compared to other people, because the job is essentially the same, isn't it you sit in an airliner you fly a to be. So what's your advice to really having a fulfilled life?
Ali Al Wahabi 41:36
I, through my courses, I did have a degree in psychology from Sydney actually, as well. And that's what I'm going to tap on that one for it as it pilot advise, you know, the triangle of a very good pilot, which is the court of KSA, the knowledge, the skill and the attitude, if you manage to have those three sides of the triangle, you have the right attitude, you have the right skill, of course, and the skill comes from the knowledge by applying the knowledge into flying. And that's how you become a pilot. The reward will come later on and the love of flying, I believe it's very, very essential to have this triangle completed. So the knowledge of the skill and the attitude. I am, as I said, I love bonds. And one day I many people they liked it actually it says all the ships are alike. What differ are the sailors one cannot change one direction, but direct sales to one destination. So that to me sums it up actually, it's it is it is you at the end of the day. It is Ben who decide which way he wants to, to go with the current situation, unfortunately, with the despair and the redundancy of what what had happened, it's really heartbreaking. And I don't know how people are coping with it. And a concept called the TARDIS box, nobody knows where it came from, it's very simple, but very, very powerful. My attitude will affect my behaviour, my behaviour will affect your attitude based on my behaviour, of course, and then based on your attitude, you don't affect your behaviour, then if I cut it, half my attitudes affect my behaviour. And if my attitude is really feeling down, my behaviour is going to reflect that projected would make it worse. And my attitude is going to sink and sink and sink. There is no silver bullet unfortunately, other than insurance and stay safe. and be yourself it is what it is. And I think it will pass goodwill inshallah, as we say in Arabic, and once it is out, then the demand will come back. And I'm sure that people will start recruiting again. Yeah, absolutely.
Ben Hall 44:26
I think it's a really key points that is just just keeping that self belief.
Ali Al Wahabi 44:30
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Really, very, very powerful, very powerful. And it's amazing. The minute you start changing your attitude, how uplifting it would be to your behaviour as well. And it's like one thing is related to other your attitude is high or behaviour will match it and then the attitude is going to go higher. And then naturally kind of get more securities meet more people and yeah, your whole life gets better. Yeah.
Dave Rogers 45:00
Ali, I think that is a lovely note to end this conversation on farewell brave of Babylon. So it was released in 2016. It's not the easiest book to get a copy of. But for anybody who has listened to this and has come across you for the first time, can they still purchase one? Because goodness me, you've just scratched the surface of an incredible journey.
Ali Al Wahabi 45:24
And absolutely, actually, they could request it from your website if you want to. And I'll be very happy to ship it to them or they. As I suggested earlier, if you guys want to put it on your website, or even a soft copy, we could arrange that one as well. And it's not going to be as expensive as you said. from other sources.
Dave Rogers 45:48
Yeah, absolutely. Yes. And Amazon, which is yes. 60 pounds. Well, we'll get in touch. If you you do one a copy then cuz cuz Goodness me. What an incredible story. Are they? Thank you so much. Good luck. And I'm certainly going to take some of the positivity that you've just exuded and try and change my attitude. Thank you. Thanks. Thanks, David.
Ben Hall 46:11
Thanks for listening to the pilot based podcast. We'll be back next week with another great guest from the aviation industry. Don't forget to check out our new career platform at pilot base.com and all the socials at pilot base HQ. If you enjoyed this podcast Don't forget to subscribe and rice review