22.03.

1913: The Daughter of a Turkish President Became the First Female Combat Pilot in History

1913: The Daughter of a Turkish President Became the First Female Combat Pilot in History
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 22 March 1913
  • Turks still hold Sabiha Gökçen in high regard. For example, the international airport in Istanbul was named after her ("Sabiha Gökçen International Airport").

On this day the first woman in history who became a fighter pilot was born. Her name was Sabiha Gokcen and she was born on the territory of the former Ottoman Empire (Turkish Empire).

There are different theories about her origin, from the ones claiming that she was Armenian, to the ones that her mother was from Bosnia. In any case, when she was 12 years old, Sabiha was adopted by the famous Mustafa Kemal Pasha Ataturk, a key figure in Turkish history (founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey).

It is interesting that Mustafa Kemal Pasha Ataturk adopted at least eight children (seven daughters and one son) during his life. It seems that he did not have any biological children, as far as is known.

Sabiha's Breguet 19
Sabiha’s Breguet 19

Sabiha came to be the most famous of all Atatürk’s adopted children, becoming a fighter pilot when she was only 23 years old. The first battle in which she participated with her fighter plane was in the area of ​​Dersim in inner Turkey, at a time when local Kurds revolted against the Turkish government.

The Turks still hold Sabiha Gökçen in highest regard. For example, one of the two international airports in Istanbul was named after her (“Sabiha Gökçen International Airport”). The other, older, airport was named after her stepfather Ataturk. It is interesting that on this same day, in 2001, Sabiha Gokcen died, exactly 88 years after the date of her birth in 1913.

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