UAS International Trip Support supported headline speaker Maya Ghazal at the 34th Annual Women in Aviation International Conference in Long Beach, California, on February 25.

Ghazal become an inspirational role model for young women pursuing an aviation career. “We are delighted to support her in her own career as a commercial pilot. What better way to facilitate that than the best networking opportunity, topping 4,500 delegates from 32 countries, in every discipline,” said Omar Hosari, Co-owner/founder and CEO at UAS.

“I was excited and blessed to join the wide aviation community and I learned so much and met some amazing people,” said Ghazal. “WAI is a shining example of women empowerment.”

Ghazal highlighted her own journey during the conference. She fled war in her home country of Syria in 2015. In 2019 she fulfilled her dream of becoming the first female Syrian refugee pilot, aged 21 and her inspiration was – London Heathrow Airport.

Ghazal became interested in aviation watching aircraft take off and land while based out of a hotel at Britain’s biggest airport. She asked her mother to join her in its car parks to see the aircraft more closely and changed her plan to study aviation engineering instead of medical engineering. She recalls she was discouraged. “Getting through security is difficult enough (for an Arab woman) let alone getting into the flight deck,” older friends told her. “But I was on fire. How many dreams have been crushed by comments like that. It just redoubled my passion to prove people wrong – to be a refugee pilot, after being rejected by schools because my English wasn’t good enough.”

“Under 9% of the world’s pilots are women – what chance for a Syrian refugee pilot,” she said. Maya’s strong ability in maths and physics helped her secure her chosen university place.

Inclusive education

“I am one of the lucky ones. In the UK, one third of young people go to University and College. For refugees, that is just 5%. Maya is committed to help her peers flourish, define their future, so they can give back to society. “We cannot neglect the refugee population, especially girls,” she said, highlighting the need for access to an inclusive education.

Since graduating last year (2021) with a degree in Aviation Engineering and Pilot Studies from Brunel University, London, Maya is now working as a research engineer with the Manufacturing Technology Centre, an R&D non-profit innovation centre based in Coventry with supplemental centres in Oxford, London and Liverpool. She has been learning about innovative manufacturing processes, writing white papers on engineering and space. Her next project will be learning about aser processing.

Ghazal splits her time between London and Birmingham and is committed to her charity work. As a Goodwill Ambassador for UHNCR, the UN Refugee Agency, she travelled to Jordan last year to meet fellow Syrian refugees. She continues to fund-raise and last year teamed with UNHCR Supporters Toto and Susie Wolff to highlight awareness for the charity’s education report. Maya spoke at The Women’s Forum in Paris and was invited to attend Airbus’ annual summit in Toulouse.

Ghazal is now hoping to secure enrolment on to a cadet scheme with a leading airline (or business aviation operator) next year and has started applying for an opportunity.

“We chose to join WAI as a Corporate Member during NBAA-BACE last year – to give something back and put the spotlight on our stellar women working at UAS,” said Mohammed Al Husary, Co-owner/founder and Executive President at UAS. “Maya is a brilliant ambassador. Her story of resilience and determination resonates well with our company and ethos.”

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