Touria Chaoui, Morocco’s first female pilot and daring teenager

Courageous, bold, and determined Touria Chaoui built herself an impressive career that every man was dreaming of. She was the first female Aviatrix out there, a title that attracted the wrong people.

Touria Chaoui, the female pilot in Morocco and the Arab World./Ph. DR
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Touria Chaoui is the first Moroccan and Arab young woman to consider flying. Daughter of an intellectual and a forward-thinking father, she successfully became a female pilote, a hero for so many girls in the Kingdom at a time when the French protectorate was still taking control of the country. However, Touria’s success story and glorious achievement took a tragic turn when she was only 19 years old in a glaucous yet mysterious incident.

Touria is now resting at the Ahl Fas cemetery in Casablanca next to her father’s lonely grave. Born in Fes on the 14th of December, 1936, she was the eldest daughter of the Chaoui couple, Abdelwahed and Zina. The father who was one of the few French-speaking journalists, a theater director and a figure of nationalism in the colonized Kingdom has raised his only daughter as a boy.

And as he was inspired by Cinema and theater, Abdelwahed Chaoui took his daughter to theater tours and acted in small roles. Indeed, Chaoui, the father, was nominated to star at a movie by French director André Zwobaba. «The movie presented an opportunity to Abdelwahed (…) when it came time for casting, an important role was given to an outspoken young Moroccan, not even ten, who had some acting experience in local theater productions- Touria Chaoui», wrote Narratively, an online platform dedicated to historical accounts.

A new life in Casablanca

Moving to Casablanca has also been a turning point in the life of the young girl. According to an article issued by Zamane in 2012, the Fasi family left the northern city for Casablanca in 1948. Once in Casablanca, Touria and her youngest brother «rubbed shoulders with the greatest figures of the Moroccan nationalist movement, such as Allal El Fassi and Ahmed Balafrej, thanks to their father a well-respected intellectual», recalled the history magazine.

Touria, and unlike girls her age at the époque, was dreaming of becoming a pilot. She wanted to fly, a dream that her father respected and worked on realizing. In 1951, and after graduating high school, the journalist enrolled his daughter into the aviation school based in Tit Mellil.

As hard and unusual as it sounded at the time, Touria was the only first Moroccan girl to step in the aviation school reserved for the French Forces. Historical accounts suggest that her enrollment was fought and that she had to struggle to be finally accepted at the aviation program.

The first female pilot in Morocco

By the age of 15, Touria received her aviation license and her story became a national pride. According to Centennial of Women Pilots, a platform that celebrates female pilots, «in 1952, Touria was actually the first aviatrix from the Arab world».

«Newspapers worldwide have reported the event. Touria received the congratulations of all women’s organizations. She received a signed photo of Jacqueline Auriol, test pilot, and niece of French President, Vincent Auriol and was received by King Mohammed V of Morocco at the Palace to congratulate her».

For Zamane, the young aviatrix had a loaded schedule that made her busy and transformed her daily life. For instance, she was named an ambassador for the women’s cause within the Lalla Amina Institution, which helps young girls. Touria has even participated to the show delivered when Sultan Mohammed ben Youssef returned from the exile and showcased her skills in front of the crowd gathered to celebrate the event.

The tragic end

Unfortunately, Touria’s successful life and brilliant career has attracted the wrong people. In a dramatic incident, the pilot was murdered with a bullet in front of her brother Salaheddine and mother Zina.

On the 1st of March 1956, one day before the signing of the independence decree, Touria Chaoui couldn’t escape her killer. Historical sources suggest that she was killed by Ahmed Touil, a man with a troubled past who was involved in nationalist resistance and who was rumored of being in love with the 19-year-old aviatrix. Regardless of speculations, Touria’s death is still a mystery.

Remembering her story at the 8th of March, Touria Chaoui, the first Moroccan and Arab aviatrix is still an example that young girls can look up for. A female figure that despite the obstacles set by the society she lived in managed to realize her dream.

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