“The only female pilot selected for the poster, The 20 Greatest Aviators in History.”


Sabiha Gokcen 1913 – 2001
Sabiha was one of the world’s first female combat pilots and Turkey’s first woman aviator. She was orphaned as a child after the death of her parents, and was thrown into extreme poverty. In a chance meeting, she begged Turkey’s leader, Kemal Ataturk, to help her out of her desperate situation. He adopted her and moved her into the Presidential Palace. Sabiha became enamored with flight and was encouraged by her new father. While training at the Air Force Academy she learned to fly bomber and fighter planes. She is credited with flying around the world, working as the chief instructor at the Turkish Flight School and inspiring generations of Islamic women to live a liberated life. An airport in Istanbul is named after her.