Part 1 || Ragheed’s Story
Ragheed’s Journey to the Skies: A Lifelong Passion for Aviation
From a young age, many of us harbor various dreams, yet often only one takes root, consuming our thoughts and becoming ingrained in our identity. While some dreams dissipate due to external factors or a lack of motivation and support, others flourish over time, reaching their ultimate realization.
Eight-year-old Ragheed was no different. Blessed with a curious and adventurous spirit, he was captivated by the world of aviation. His family’s tradition of visiting the airport to welcome arriving relatives piqued his interest. The buzz and roar of airplanes were like music to his ears, leaving a lasting impression on him.
A pivotal moment came in 1963 when Ragheed was eight. His family witnessed the aftermath of a Jordanian plane crash in a mountain on the highway between Dimas area and Bludan. This experience only fueled his passion for aviation. Returning home, Ragheed began sketching airplanes tirelessly, focusing particularly on the plane’s tail, which had intrigued him at the crash site.
Ragheed’s fervor for aviation faced a challenging test during the 1967 war, when the Golan Heights were occupied by the Zionist enemy. He is intimately familiar with the area, as his mother hailed from Ain Ziwan, a town in the Golan Heights situated 3 km west of the city of Quneitra, an area that remains occupied to this day. The loss of the Golan was a profound sorrow for him, compounded by the setbacks in Egyptian and Syrian aviation and the ascendancy of hostile aircraft at that time.
The presence of enemy planes like the Mirage, the Futur, the Mystere, and the Super Mystere exacerbated his despair. Compounding this was the fact that, following the war, he no longer witnessed Syrian aircraft departing from Mezzeh Airport.
Months later, the skies above Damascus buzzed with activity again. Ragheed was particularly entranced by the arrival of a squadron of Soviet planes. Their appearance solidified his commitment to aviation, a sentiment heightened by air battles he observed near his home.
Upon completing high school, Ragheed took the decisive step of applying to the Air College, specializing in military aviation. After passing the necessary medical exams, he began his professional journey towards realizing his childhood dream. By 1973, months before the October War, Ragheed was already in the cockpit, guided initially by Major Saif al-Din Qubaytari and later by Captain Tahseen Obaid. According to his trainers, Ragheed showed exceptional skill and aptitude.
Completing his training in 1975, Ragheed graduated as a combat pilot, cementing his lifelong passion and fulfilling his dream of soaring through the skies.