You Won't Believe Where This All-Women Flight Crew Landed

We are celebrating Women of Aviation Worldwide Week with the extraordinary story of an all-female crew landing a plane in a nation where women cannot legally drive a car.

In February, a flight-deck crew of three female Royal Brunei Airline pilots landed a Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The female pilots Captain Sharifah Czarena Surainy, Senior First Officer Dk Nadiah, and Senior First Officer Sarian are all from Brunei, a tiny nation on the island of Borneo.

On Feb. 23 they took off and eventually landed their plane in Saudi Arabia, a country that prohibits women from driving, but ironically permits women to fly planes. There are no laws in place to prevent women from flying in Saudi Arabia, and in 2014, the first woman received her pilot certification in the nation.

But Saudi Arabia still struggles in moving toward gender equality. In fact last year, for the first time in history, women in Saudi Arabia were able to cast ballots during their municipal elections. And still today women in the nation risk arrests and fines for being caught driving.

The story of the all-female Royal Brunei crew gained circulation recently after being posted on Reddit during Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, a global initiative celebrated annually during the week of March 8, the anniversary of the world’s first female pilot, La Baronne de Laroche, licensed in 1910 and the creation of International Women's Day in 1914.

While the all-women Royal Brunei flight deck crew indicates progress for women pilots, today there is still a gaping disparity between the number of male and female pilots worldwide. The International Society of Women Airline Pilots estimates there are about 4,000 female pilots worldwide out of 130,000 pilots total and only about 450 women are captains.

Royal Brunei Airlines is attempting to get more women operating flights with two programs, an engineering apprenticeship and a cadet pilot program.

And now the captain of the noted flight to Jeddah holds two recorded firsts, as the first female pilot not only for the Royal Brunei airline, but also for any major airline in Southeast Asia.

"It's really showing the younger generation or the girls especially that whatever they dream of, they can achieve it," Surainy said in an interview.

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Photo Credit: RoyalBruneiAir/Instagram