Who is Vecihi Hürkuş?
Born in the late 19th century in Istanbul, Hürkuş made a name for himself during WW I fighting for the Ottoman Empire. Hürkuş, Turkey's most celebrated aviator, enrolled in Tayyare Mektebi, the Ottoman aviation school during the early days of that war. He was the first Turk to shoot down enemy aircraft on the Caucasus front and the first to fly a twin-engine aircraft. He was a prisoner of war taken hostage by the Russians, but he managed to escape through Iran.
Following World War I, he joined the Turkish War of Independence and shot down Greek war craft, making history. Turkish Parliament presented him with the Medal of Independence for his accomplishments during the war and gave him three letters of appreciation. Hürkuş is the only person to receive three letters of appreciation in Turkish history. When the fight was over, he rented a mill to build his own aircraft, using old parts from World War I aircraft. On January 28, 1925, Hürkuş flew his own production aircraft: "VECİHİ K-VI." However, he was punished by the authorities, as he did not have permission.
The funny thing was that there was no official institution available to give Hürkuş permission to fly his plane. In 1930, Hürkuş built his first commercial plane; however, he was again unable to receive a permit. He transported his design to Czechoslovakia, received flight permission there and returned to Turkey using his plane. In 1932, he opened Turkey's first Private Aviation School, and in 1954, he founded the first private Turkish airline: "Hürkuş Airlines." During his career as a pilot, which spanned 52 years (1916–1967), Hürkuş flew 102 different aircraft models and spent 30,000 hours (3.4 years of his life) in a cockpit. In 1994, he was honored posthumously with the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) 50th Anniversary Award (1944-1994) for the considerable contributions he made to the field of civil aviation in Turkey.
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