an unknown mastermind who built Turkey’s first plane


Hurkus’ innovation in aerial vehicles was inspired by his personal goal of bringing the Turkish aviation industry onto the world stage, although he faced many setbacks along the way.

Vecihi Hurkus, known for his revolutionary innovation in Turkish aviation history, made his first flight as a pilot on May 21, 1916, at the age of 20.

A year later, Hurkus shot down a Russian plane on the Caucasus front, where it was deployed as the Ottoman Empire entered World War I. With enemy planes harassing the Ottoman lines along the Caucasus Belt, Hurkus was unlucky on October 8. 1917. His plane came under fire and crashed, seriously injuring him. Acting like a real fighter pilot, his instincts told him to burn the machine down before falling captive to Russian troops.

Hurkus was sent to Nargin Island in the Caspian Sea as a prisoner of war – but soon after he had devised a plan to free himself. With the help of Azerbaijani Turks, he escaped the prison and swam in the Caspian Sea, with his friend Bahattin Bey, until the duo reached Erzurum, a province in northeastern Turkey. ‘today.

On his return to Istanbul, he was assigned to the city’s air defense. However, while Istanbul was under the occupation of Allied forces, Hurkus left the city with former captive soldiers. They got on a boat from Harem. He goes to Mudanya via Bursa and Eskisehir, and joins the Turkish liberation war.

Hurkus was born in Istanbul in 1896 to Zeliha Niyir Hanim. His father, Feham Bey, was a customs inspector. In 1912, he joined the troops of Staff Officer Kemal Bey, his brother-in-law, and volunteered for the Balkan War. He was one of the forces that entered Edirne.

As a pilot, he made the first and last flight of the Liberation War and single-handedly took control of Izmir-Seydikoy Airport. He later received a red ribbon war of independence medal from the Turkish Grand National Assembly.

He assured that his love for aviation complemented his love for Turkey. Just before his death on July 16, 1969, the day humanity set foot on the moon, he left behind a roadmap that later defined Turkey’s aviation industry.

After the Great War, Hurkus began teaching at the Izmir-Seydikoy flight school. In his time, he prepared an ambitious aviation project that aimed to bring his country on the path of innovation in flight.

As Turkey lacked aviation technology at the time, Hurkus built the Vecihi K-VI using engines from aircraft the country had shot down or captured during the war with Greece.

Hurkus must have clashed with Turkish bureaucracy when he applied for permission to fly his own home-made plane. Although a technical committee was set up to grant him a flight license, the process was somewhat delayed. The main reason for the delay was that with the exception of Hurkus himself, no other rider could actually pilot his machine. Hurkus finally got around the obstacles created by bureaucracy and made his first flight aboard the Vecihi K-VI on January 28, 1925.

Hurkus wrote an article about his newly built airplane in Resimli Ay, one of the famous Turkish magazines of the 1920s, titled: “How I Made the First Turkish Taylor (Airplane)”.

“There was not a single aircraft engineer in our Air Force at the time, nor a single colleague who could scientifically examine the parts of an aircraft. So I decided to cross on my own. uncharted territory, ”Hurkus wrote.

As he felt abandoned by the country’s airspace bureaucracy, he left the air force and moved to Ankara to join the Turkish Airplane Society, where he supervised aviation engineers. The company was formed with the support of public donations. Hurkus planned to bring his plane to Ankara and use donations from the public to facilitate the process of obtaining permission to fly and also “spread the love of aviation in Turkish society”. However, he was unable to recover his plane.

The Department of National Defense has offered Hurkus a new role in its new factory, Plane and Engine Incorporated, in Kayseri province. He accepted the offer and his new job took him to Germany where he examined the Junkers A-20 aircraft and found a major technical flaw. Hurkus was given the responsibility of repairing the aircraft as well as its improved model, the Junkers A-35.

On July 18, 1926, the Turkish government recalled him to Ankara. Within a month, he found himself testing a Junkers A-35 aircraft and competing with France’s most popular aircraft, the Nieuport Delage. Hurkus won the air exercise, proving that the machine was on par with other major combat air vehicles and possessed the ability to launch an attack on multiple fronts. On August 1, 1926, Vecihi won the simulated aerial combat.

After returning to Turkey, he built three-engined commercial airplanes and began carrying 14-passenger flights between Ankara and Kayseri. By 1927 he had also transformed the Junkers G-24 planes into single-engine six-passenger flights. Many consider Hurkus to be the pioneer of Turkey’s first domestic airline.

In 1930, his work received a major boost when the country held its Congress of Industry in Ankara, where Turkish engineers presented their products. Photos of Hurkus planes were also on display, including a model of the Vecihi XI, a high-wing, closed-cabin aircraft.

Encouraged by the appreciation he received at the Congress of Industry, he took two months of unpaid leave and rented a lumber store in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul, where he built another aircraft, the Vecihi XIV, in three months.

On September 27, 1930, he flew the plane in front of a large crowd at Kadikoy-Fikirtepe. Curious to learn more about the Vecihi XIV, some government and military officials examined the aircraft. They were happy with the product and publicly praised it.

He applied for a flight authorization from the Ministry of the Economy, but again it was rejected. The engineers there just couldn’t grasp the technical innovation that the aircraft embodied.

That said, however, the ministry agreed to help him and sent his plane to Czechoslovakia for evaluation. He had all documents translated from Turkish into the Czech language, and he arrived in Prague on December 6, 1930. The machine passed critical examination and he finally obtained the flight clearance. Enthused by the success, he adorned his plane with a sign that read: “Long live Turkish aviation”.

Hurkus established the first civilian flight school on April 21, 1932. Its main objective was to inspire young Turkish engineers to study aviation and to produce a new breed of pilots for the Turkish Air Force.

In early 1935, the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, discovered Hurkus’ achievements. Atatürk said the country should benefit from Hurkus’ skills and experience and, as a result, ordered reform of Turkey’s aviation law under the title Turk Kusu (Turkish Bird).

In the fall of 1937, the Turkish Aeronautical Association sent Hurkus to Germany for an engineering degree. A year and a half later, he graduated from the Weimar Engineering School. After taking several elective courses and additional training, Hurkus was allowed to graduate in two years, while his peers took four.

On February 17, 1939, he obtained an engineering degree in aeronautical mechanics in Turkey. In possession of this document, he sought to obtain an aeronautical engineering license in Turkey, but other obstacles awaited him. His candidacy for the Ministry of Public Works fell on deaf ears: he was refused a license on the grounds that the government did not approve his diploma and that he had only served two years at the school. ‘university. Hurkus challenged them in court and the Council of State ruled in his favor. He finally got a license.

By the early 1950s, Hurkus had left his mark in several fields – from the creation of a private airliner called Hurkus Airlines to aerial exploration for thorium, uranium and phosphate in the southeast of the ‘Anatolia.

Although Hurkus had shown courage and courage all his life and always strived to take his art of aircraft building to the next level, the later stages of his life were filled with uncertainty and uncertainty. debts.

Over the years, he had accumulated huge debt with insurance and credit companies. The foreclosure lawsuits and other lawsuits have eaten up all of his government pay.

While writing his memoirs, he suffered a brain hemorrhage. He died on July 16, 1969 and was buried in the Cebeci cemetery in Ankara.

During his 52-year career, he flew 102 different aircraft models and spent 30,000 hours, almost 3.5 years of his life, in the cockpit.

Source: TRT World


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