Sunday 27 February marked 108 years since the death of Captain Tayyareci Fethi Bey, the first pilot in Turkish aviation history, who gave his name to Fethiye.

We’re delighted to report that the annual commemoration service held at Şehit Fethi Bey Parkı was back this year after being cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fethi Bey

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.

Fethi Bey - commemorating 106 years since his death

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.

In photos: Fethiye Bey - commemorating 104 years since his death

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.

Have a look at our gallery of photos from the ceremony

Although the day was grey with maybe a promise of rain to come later, people turned out to enjoy the ceremony which included Istiklal Marşı, speeches, and an air display and acrobatics with a model plane by the Turkish Aeronautical Association founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1925.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a flypast by the Turkish Air Force jets this year.

Photographs by Norman Clark

Photograhs and videos by Şefik Akkurt.

Featured photo by Norman Clark