Crowds gathered at the Şehit Fethi Bey Parkı this morning to commemorate 106 years since the death of Captain Tayyareci Fethi Bey, the first pilot in Turkish aviation history, who gave his name to Fethiye.
Tayyareci Fethi Bey was born in Ayazpaşa in Istanbul in 1887. He graduated from Naval College in 1907 as a second lieutenant. He was then sent to Britain, where he trained as an aviator. He was promoted to captain in 1911 and was one of the first pilots in the Ottoman Air Force.
What happened to Fethi Bey?
One American newspaper at the time said that the young aviator died on 28th February 1914. It reported that he was attempting to fly from Istanbul to Alexandria, in Egypt, together with his navigator, Sadik Efendi, in a Bleriot XI/B plane called Muavenet-i Milliye when the tragedy occurred.
This article appeared in the Knoxville Journal and Tribune, Knoxville, Tennessee on March 1, 1914,
“Turkish Aviators Killed,”
“Constantinople, Feb. 28. – Fethi Bey and Sadik Bey, young aviators of the Turkish military aviation corps, were killed today while attempting to fly from Constantinople to Alexandria, Egypt. After leaving Damascus on the way to Jerusalem the aeroplane broke down in mid-air and the two aviators fell with it from a high altitude. Fethi Bey rendered great assistance to the Ottoman army during the Balkan war, making many flights over the Bulgarina positions.”
There appears to be some confusion about the day Fethi Bey died but Turkish sources agree that it was on February 27th, 1914.
Fethiye – “the place of Fethi”
The town was renamed from Meğri to Fethiye which means “The place of Fethi,” to honour the first Turkish airman to die in military service.
In photos – have a look at our gallery of photos from the ceremony
Photographs by Lyn Ward and Şefik Akkurt. Video by Paul Watts.
Although the day was grey and the low clouds promised rain to come, the weather held and people turned out to enjoy the ceremony. Many were looking forward to the flypast by three Turkish Air Force jets as a mark of respect.