Beechcraft, photo contributed by Kent Howell
Back in 2008 Aramco published the Saudi Aramco Aviation History book. Courtney (Court) Gunderson, a fixed-wing pilot for Aramco in Dhahran, is currently working on an update to the book.
Court says, “The original book is lacking information on many areas of our history.” He asks that anyone with stories they would like to share that would enrich this history to please share them with him. Also, pictures from back in the day would be very valuable additions.
As an example, Court asks, “please help me figure out the mystery behind the Norseman aircraft that Aramco had shipped over to Saudi and pieced together in Dhahran. I would love to hear them.”
He has included a story about the Norseman’s first flight below. “All I can find so far is the Norseman was one of our first aircraft.”
Court requests,”Please help me document the History of our Aviation Department as it’s such an important piece of history to our company and the country!”
To share stories and photographs, please email Courtney Gunderson at email@example.com.
Download Aramco Early Aircraft
Fred and Molly
Aramco Brat and former Aramco employee Fred Bobb, Barb and Elliott recently embarked upon a camel expedition through Safari Wilderness in Lakeland, Florida. Fred said, “It reminded me of the safari I went on with my parents in the 1970′s when we were in Kenya and Tanzania.” Fred’s father, Dr. Arthur Bobb, was an eye surgeon with Aramco Medical Services for 20 years from 1963-1984 in Dhahran.
“The safari, along with our personal tour guide, lasted almost 2 hours through a preserved game reservation on 266 acres. There were two different gaming environments, one with African animals and the other with Asian animals. All the animals got along fine with everyone and were well taken care of and happy. It was quite a fun and interesting educational experience,” said Fred.
Fred was particularly fond of his camel Molly. He said, “She was so cute and adorable. I was told that she had never spit or kicked anyone and just loved being with people. Molly was gentle, loving, affectionate and could not stop kissing and licking Barb in front of her. I never heard of a camel doing that before!” Fred tried to convince the tour manager that his camel Molly should be renamed Jameela, beautiful one in Arabic, The tour manager was not convinced to change Molly’s name.
Elliott on Smokey, Barb on Bob and Fred on Molly begin their expedition.
The expedition company Safari Wilderness assures, “Our camels are treated with kindness and respect — and they love their jobs. They line up at the gate each morning eager to go to work! After giving their human safaris, each camel returns to the herd in their large grassy pasture with trees and open sky for rest, play, and recharging. Our camels are athletes, and they live long and healthy lives.”
Elliott’s camel was named Smokey and Barb’s camel was named Bob. Smokey was the male leader and the boss. Bob was the oldest at 17 years of age. Fred said “Bob just went along with anything Smokey wanted to do. All three camels knew that they were getting fed at the end of the safari and as a result were so very well behaved. In fact when they see the saddles coming out of the camel barn they come running up in excitement to get them put on their humps. How amazing is that?!
Fred was told that these camels follow the 40-40-40 rule. They will live to be over 40 years old, can run up to 40 miles an hour, and they drink 40 gallons of water in one session.
Safari Wilderness also offers a jeep tour if you don’t want to ride the camels. Safari Wilderness expeditions allow a maximum of four people on a tour and the tours are very personalized. They only do two safaris per day, five days a week. The camels get a two day weekend, Monday and Tuesday. Fred said, “You have your own personal tour guide and as you go along you can choose different riding paths depending on what you want to see. The other animals in the game reservation love the camels and the camels love them. Elk, zebras, boar, chickens, birds, pigs, alligators and many others. But no lions or tigers!”
Fred highly recommends the camel expedition at Safari Wilderness.
Doug Grosch, son of Jon and Cindy Grosch of Dhahran, married Stephanie Mitchell in a fishing-themed wedding (“Hooked for Life”) in Cancun, Mexico on May 27, 2013. The wedding ceremony was performed in the all-glass, beachfront Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Chapel with a mariachi band providing the music.
Wedding activities included a Groom’s Golf Tournament (in which the groom’s team finished last), a cocktail party on the beach, and a rooftop wedding reception that lasted all night. The couple then proceeded to honeymoon on Holbox Island at Hotel Mawimbi with plenty of fishing and kayaking.
Stephanie is the daughter of Pete and Barbara Mitchell currently residing in San Antonio, a graduate of Langham Creek High School in Houston. She has a BS in Finance and Economics from Tulane University and is currently working on her MS in Finance at the University of Houston while working full time as an Olefins Marketing Representative at The Williams Companies.
Doug was born and raised in Dhahran, graduating from the Dhahran Academy International School and has a BS in GIS with a geology minor from Texas State University. After working for 5 years as a core analyst with the Core Laboratories petrophysics lab in Houston, he is currently at the University of Texas San Antonio pursuing an MS in petroleum geology.
Over 50 family and friends attended the wedding, including former Aramcons Al and Margaret Griffith and Aramco Brats Will Owen and Andrew Kochinski.
Nov. 18, 2013 —Saudi Aramco was well represented this year by Zack Salama and Sasith Weerasundara at the 4A Colorado State High School Tennis Championships.
Zack, a junior boarding student at Fountain Valley School of Colorado, competed with his partner Sasith Weerasundara, also a junior boarder, at the No. 3 doubles position. They compiled a 10-4 overall record and won the Region 7 State Qualifying Tournament.
“Zack and Sasith played their best tennis of the season in the finals of the regional tournament,” FVS head tennis coach Randy Jones said. “They won in straight sets but managed to do so by raising their level of concentration and aggressiveness.”
At the state championships, Zack and Sasith lost a tough first-round match, 5-7, 6-7.
Jones said their season started out on a disappointing note when Zack and Sasith did not win their challenge match to be the school’s No. 2 doubles team. But it turned out, staying at No. 3 doubles helped improve their skills.
“Zack and Sasith were able to spend more time during their matches trying the new things they worked on in practice,” Jones said. “Zack made great strides as he developed a spin serve and worked to improve his volleys and overheads. Sasith also improved his serve throughout the season, and the two of them had a chance to work on court coverage strategies.”
That hard work paid off with a successful season, which included a second-place finish at the Fountain Valley School Invitational Tennis Tournament.
This was Zack’s second straight year qualifying for the state tournament. During the 2012 season, Zack and partner Fermin Serrano qualified at No. 2 doubles.
Zack’s parents, Samir Salama and Linda Barber, now live in Florida since Mr. Salama retired from Aramco after 10 years in Dhahran. Zack learned to play tennis while in Dhahran, and it has certainly paid off at FVS. Sasith’s parents, Ruwan Weerasundara and Prasanthi Arachchige, have lived in Ras Tanura for two years.
Learn more about Fountain Valley School of Colorado.
The wedding celebrations for Montaha Alavi and Ayaz Jafri took place over several days. Nikah (marriage registration) took place in September, the wedding ceremony was held on November 1st and the Valima ceremony took place on November 2nd, 2013. Montaha is the daughter of Salma and Saudi Aramco retiree Kaiseruddin Alavi, badge #73895 who worked for the Financial Accounting Department as Accounting Analyst (Nov. 1977 – Sept. 2009). Kaiseruddin is a permanent member of Saudi Aramco Ex-Employees Association, Karachi, Pakistan.
Montaha with her father Kaiseruddin Alavi
Montaha was born in Dhahran Hospital and brought up in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia. She has completed her secondary and higher secondary education from Saudi Arabian International School (Pakistani Section), Al-Khobar. She now holds a degree in Occupational Therapy from Jinnah Post Graduate and Medical Center, Karachi, Pakistan.
The ceremonies were attended by family members, relatives and friends.
The bride and groom with Kaiseruddin and Salma as well as other family members.
The ex-employees and SAEEA office holders who attended the function were:
- Mr. and Mrs. Ghulam Qutubuddin Khan
- Mr. and Mrs. Mohammad Abdul Matin
- Mr. and Mrs. Mahmood Alam
- Mr. and Mrs. Mohammad Hussain Rizvi
- Mr. and Mrs. Mohammad Younus Sheikh
SAEEA wishes heartiest greetings to Mr. Kaiseruddin Alavi and Mrs. Salma Alavi and wish a very happy and bright future for Ayaz Jafri and Montaha Jafri.
View more photos of Montaha Alavi and Ayaz Jafri Wed in the Aramco ExPats Galleries.
Reported by: Ghulam Qutubuddin Khan, General Secretary, SAEEA, Karachi, Pakistan