On the Path of the Forgotten Monument: Discovering the True Story of Turkish Aviation’s First Martyrs
Bülent Yılmazer
The first Turkish aviators to loose their life fell in Palestine while they were trying to fulfill a duty for the glory of their country in early 1914. The flight starting from Istanbul and stretching all the way to Alexandria was the very first attempt to cover such a long distance by the fledgling pilots of the Ottoman Army. They were the world’s first seasoned military pilots, having tasted the effectiveness of air power over the battlefield during the Balkan Wars. This had provided the opportunity to accomplish many feats for the first time in use of aircraft for military purpose. However, their training, equipment and even combat experience were not enough to overcome the natural obstacles on their way and the shortcomings of their equipment during this long distance flight.
The flight started with two aircraft, a pilot and an observer to each. It was plagued with mishaps from the start. Nonetheless, the aviators flew with dedication and with great personal sacrifice to accomplish the duty they were given. They passed over the Taurus Mountains, considered the most difficult part of the flight due to the very high peaks that they had to master. However, they could not outrun their fate. Yüzbaşı Fethi, together with his observer Mülâzım-ı Evvel Sadık, fell before reaching Jerusalem. A few days later, Mülâzım-ı Evvel Nuri fell while taking off from Jaffa. They were declared national heroes and a monument was erected at the site of the first crash. Another team of Ottoman aviators later completed the flight.
Most unfortunately, the monument was almost forgotten as soon as it was erected and the true story of this epic event in the history of Turkish aviation was not published until very recently. For many years, the most prolific Turkish writers and historians wrote the story of this long distance flight and the brave aviators that gave their life in the attempt. However, all that was written, even by the scholars, remained no more than “a story – a fictional narrative”. Due to the barriers imposed by the Arabic script of the original official documents, available in national archives, not even the scholars bothered to uncover the true account of this historic flight.
Working in collaboration with Dr. Dov Gavish it became possible to uncover some official documents that were not made available to general public before. Thus, the true account of the flight unfolded and it has been put into print for the first time in Dr. Gavish’s book “Man-Made Birds on Our Horizon”.

Parallel to the research work in bringing to light the true account of the flight, the forgotten monument was brought to the attention of Turkish authorities. It was only a few years ago that the generous efforts of Mr. Yerach Paran at Kibutz Ha’on to preserve this monument were recognized by Turkish Air Force, and after so many years of neglect, the monument became under the care of Turkish government.

This paper will attempt to present a brief history of the introduction of aviation into the lands under Ottoman rule. The paper will also aim to illustrate the erroneous nformation that has crept into even the scholarly works that covered this long distance flight in the early history of Turkish aviation. It will try to explain the difficulties involved at working on the Ottoman documents available at Turkish archives, which may provide a partial
answer as to the cause of lack of depth of research covering subjects of the Ottoman times in Turkey.
It is hoped that the facts presented will inspire the authorities to make available an English translation
of Dr. Gavish’s book, to disseminate information to the knowledge of a wider readership.
Bülent Yılmazer
Yıldızevler, 34. Sokak
Görkem Sitesi 6/17
Çankaya, Ankara
TURKEY
phone: +90-312-4408315
fax: +90-312-3954877
gsm: +90-532-559 3191
e-mail: yilmazer@tr.net