Sabiha Gökçen (1913 – 2001) was one of the eight adopted children of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk the founder and first president of Turkey. Her family name, Gökçen, means ‘belonging or relating to the sky’ in Turkish.
She was introduced to aviation during the opening ceremony of the Türkkuşu (Turkishbird) Flight School. She became the first Turkish woman pilot to earn a pilot licence in 1936. Later that year, she attended the Air Force Academy to become the first female military pilot of Turkey.
She improved her skills by flying bomber and fighter planes. In 1937, she took part in the military operation against the Dersim rebellion and became the world’s first female air force combat pilot. Throughout her career in the Turkish Air Force, Sabiha flew 22 different types of aircraft for more than 8000 hours, 32 hours of which were active combat and bombardment missions.