American Pilot Gives Rare View of Saudi-U.S. Relationship

November 10, 2009

[Washington] – Captain Joseph Grant, a U.S. World War II pilot, will be in the Washington, DC area this week for the national book launch of “King Abdulaziz…His Plane and His Pilot,” by Michael Saba. Captain Grant will provide a rare first-hand account of the history and the beginning of the diplomatic Saudi-U.S. relationship as the first pilot to King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Saud, the founder of the third Saudi state, in 1945. 

Captain Grant, who is 101 years-old, flew a Douglas-DC3 aircraft to Saudi Arabia to be delivered as a gift to King Abdulaziz from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, following the leader’s historic meeting aboard the U.S.S. Quincy on February 14, 1945.  Subsequently, he served two years in the Kingdom as the first airline pilot to King Abdulaziz. Captain Grant was also instrumental in the establishment of Saudi Arabia's first national airline and the training of its pilots.

On November 12, Captain Grant and author Dr. Saba will be at the Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum in Baltimore, MD from 12:00pm into the afternoon, and at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC on November 14, from 1:00pm – 3:00pm. 

Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir expressed appreciation to Captain Grant saying, “Captain Grant's efforts to help develop aviation in Saudi Arabia and to unite our two countries under a mutual interest still resonate today and we will forever be grateful.”

On January 28, 2009, Captain Grant was presented with the King Abdulaziz Medal, which is awarded in recognition of significant contributions made by an individual to the Kingdom. In addition, on March 22, 2007, Captain Grant was presented with the Friends of Saudi Arabia’s Hart Award.  This award is named for Ambassador Parker T. Hart who opened the first U.S. Consulate in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia over 60 years ago and served as Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1961-1965.

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