Momi Gul Durrani: The Face of PIA

Owais Mughal

On May 20, 1965 Pakistan International Airlines Flight PK705 from Dhahran was descending on the runway of Cairo airport. This was PIA’s inaugural flight to Cairo. 119 unfortunate people onboard died.

Among the victims was PIA’s trend setter air-stewardess Momi Gul Durrani.

If ever there was a “Face of PIA,” it was Momi Gul Durrani. No PIA personality, with the exception of Air Marshal Nur Khan (who, in fairness, was already a celebrity before he came to PIA) has ever achieved such public recognition, affection and fame as Momi Durrani did.

Quoting from the Mr. Abbas Ali‘s website History of PIA:

Momi was one of PIA’s highly trained, professional and hard working cabin crew members of 1950s and 1960s. She was tall, fair with film-star looks. In short period of time she gained immense popularity and achieved status of a bright star and a legend in PIA’s glorious history.

Omar Kureishi, while writing an article in Dawn of March 30, 2003 recalled Momi in following words:

(For the inaugural PIA flight to Cairo) We had our VIP cabin crew including Momi Durrani, a Pathan girl, tall and fair with film-star looks. We had featured Momi in our advertisements. When she smiled, she made others smile.

In the first two photos, Momi Gul Durrani is seen in 1950s uniform of PIA. Once again quoting from website History of PIA (re. the first photograph):

This photos shows PIA’s legendary Air Hostess Momi Gul Durrani in 1950s uniform. This uniform was designed by Frenchman Chausee Fortaignelle who was with PIA on a 5 year deputation from Pan Am. In this design a white shalwar and dupatta were set off by a green shirt with white cuffs and collar. Shoes and bags were black. The most interesting item of this uniform was a jaunty green cap for the hostesses. This uniform design was used from 1955 to 1960

Photo to the right is the monument (graves) of 119 fateful passengers of PK705 in Cairo, Egypt.

Note: As written above, PK705 was an inaugural flight in a sense that it was the resumption of Karachi-Cairo service which had been suspended for many years until the fateful day of May 20, 1965.

References:

(1) History of PIA by Abbas Ali
(2) Dr. Ghulam Nabi Kazi’s Photo Selection at Flickr.com
(3) The Cairo Crash by Omer Kureishi
(4) Photo of the PK705 memorial is from Wikipedia

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9 thoughts on “Momi Gul Durrani: The Face of PIA

  1. REALLY MOMI IS FAIRY TALE OF OUR NATIONAL AIRLINES
    IN THE MID 60, HER SMILES IS VERY CHARMING AND INNOCENT FACE, MOMI, WE MISSED YOU, SORRY
    SMAHSAN,
    KARACHI

  2. No doubt Momi was the prettiest fairy hostess of our national airline on her era 50-60s, her ever smiling face always welcome to airline passengers, airline lost her on 20th may 1965, in the wild desert land of cairo.

  3. Now this Month of May, If we remember, 47 years ago on 20th May
    1965, we lost our dearers and nearers in the sand desert of Cairo,
    We lost fairy tale of our national airline :Miss Momi Gul Durrani,

    tipusultan,
    queensland,nz

  4. Innocent face Momi was a national icon, on 21st May 1965, the house where her mother and minor sister Qandigul Durrani, used to live next to Feroz sons book shop between Cantoment Board
    Sir syed Pindi, which later became President House on the Mall
    Pindi, the house was crowded with people and relatives, image still in my mind.
    Now Innocent Momi is sleeping in the desert of Cairo, for the last
    47 years.

    Tariq Mahmood Abbassi,
    Raja Bazar-Pindi

  5. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.631814336848076.1073741832.395242770505235&type=1

    WREATH LAYING CEREMONY BY EMBASSY OF PAKISTAN
    Updated on Monday
    The Embassy of Pakistan in Cairo arranged a Fateha Khawani at the ‘Shuhda-e-Pakistan’ graveyard to commemorate the victims of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) inaugural flight 705 to Cairo which crashed on 20 May 1965 with 125 passengers on board including the crew. In a solemn ceremony arranged by the Embassy of Pakistan, floral wreaths were laid at the memorial of Shuhda-e-Pakistan on behalf of the Government of Pakistan, Pakistan International School Cairo (PISC) and the Pakistani community based in Egypt. Addressing a large number of Pakistani community and members of the Pakistani diplomatic corps, Ambassador of Pakistan to Cairo Manzoor ul Haq said that though the Pakistani Shuhda were buried thousands of miles away from their homeland but they were not forgotten by their people. “We will always remember them and pray for them”, the envoy said. The ill-fated inaugural flight 705 of PIA hosted 125 passengers out of which only 6 survived. The passengers were mainly journalists, tour operators, crew and officials of the Pakistan International Airlines. The deceased passengers were buried in a graveyard in old Cairo near Al Imam Al Shafi mosque

  6. Now, today the 20th may 2015, 50 years completed of cairo aircrash of PIA beoing 720-B, Boeing, our national airline never takes bother to remembers them, by publishing some history about its,

    may Allah bless their soul in peace ( ameen )
    tipusltan,
    karachi

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