Sabiha Gökçen
World's First Female Fighter Pilot




She was born in Bursa. She was the youngest of four siblings and first lost her father and then her mother when she was young. Her biggest dream was to study and not to be a burden to her relatives who took care of her.

Sabiha Gökçen
Sabiha Gökçen


When Atatürk visited Bursa, she saw him in the garden of a manor close to where she lived and she ran to him and told that she wanted to study. Atatürk was moved when he heard that she was an orphan and her strong wish to study and adopted her. She first had private tutors in Çankaya Mansion (home of Atatürk) and then she went to Usküdar American All Girls' School.


She was sent to Paris by Atatürk to learn French.


Atatürk chose the surname Gökçen for her when the Surname Law was enacted.

Sabiha Gökçen
Sabiha Gökçen

1935 - 1937

She was enrolled as the first female student in the first civil aviation school, Türkkuşu. After being trained with gliders, she was sent to the Soviet Union with 8 male students to study to become a flight instructor. After she came back from the Soviet Union, she studied one and a half years at Eskişehir Military Aviation School. She graduated with honours as a military pilot and she took part in many military flights in the same year. She became the world's first female fighter pilot!


She was invited by Balkan states and she carried out solo flights around Balkan Countries under the name Balkan Friendship Tour with a military aircraft.

1938 - 1954

She was appointed as the Chief Trainer at Türkkuşu Aviation School and worked in this position until 1954.

Sabiha Gökçen
Sabiha Gökçen


She was invited as a guest of honour to the Air Command and Staff College's Gathering of Eagles at Maxwell Air Force Base and she was selected as one of "The 20 Greatest Aviators in History". (Women in America gained the right to become fighter pilots in 1993.) Sabiha Gökçen became the first and only female aviator to be deemed worthy of this honor. Same year she flew for the last time when she was 83.


Her name was given to an airport to commemorate her.


Sabiha Gökçen died in 2001 but her life marked with many firsts continues to light the way to the sky for Turkish women...