Capt. Joseph Grant, a U.S. World War II pilot, will be in the Washington, D.C. area this week for the national book launch of “King Abdulaziz…His Plane and His Pilot,” by Michael Saba. 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.
Grant, who is 101 years old, flew a Douglas-DC-3 aircraft to Saudi Arabia to be delivered as a gift to King Abdulaziz from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, following the leaders’ historic meeting aboard the USS Quincy on Feb. 14, 1945. Subsequently, he served two years as the first airline pilot to King Abdulaziz. Grant was also instrumental in establishing Saudi Arabia’s first national airline and the training of its pilots.
On Nov. 12, Grant and Saba will be at the Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum in Baltimore, from 12 p.m. into the afternoon, and at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14, from 1 p.m.- 3 p.m.
On Jan. 28, 2009, 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, Grant was presented with the Friends of Saudi Arabia’s Hart Award. This award is named for Ambassador Parker Hart, who opened the first U.S. Consulate in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, 60 years ago and served as ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1961-1965.