Nezihe Viranyalı

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Nezihe Viranyalı (1925 – December 22, 2004) was one of the first Turkish female aviators. She was trained by Sabiha Gökçen, Turkey's first female pilot, world's first female combat pilot.


Born in Vidin, Bulgaria of Turkish descent, she immigrated to Turkey as she was impressed by Sabiha Gökçen's flight tour around the Balkan countries and the air show at Sofia in 1938. At the age of sixteen, she enrolled at the flight school Türkkușu (literally Turkishbird) of the Turkish Aeronautical Association,[1] where Sabiha Gökçen was a trainer. Nezihe Viranyalı learned skydiving first, and later obtained her pilot license for gliders and airplanes.[2][3] She was the last of the four female aviators trained by Sabiha Gökçen, the others being Edibe Subaşı (tr:Edibe Subaşı), Yıldız Uçman (tr:Yıldız Uçman), and Sahavet Karapas. She herself trained hundreds of aviators at the Türkkușu Flight School.

In 1955, she took part as a skydiver at the international air shows held in the Netherlands and Germany. Invited by the American pilot Jacqueline Cochran, she went to the United States to attend a course on civil aviation at the University of Tennessee on a scholarship.[3] In 1956, Nezihe Viranyalı displayed her flying skills at an air show in Baghdad, Iraq.[2]

In her career, she parachuted more than 100 times, had more than 180 hours of flight time on gliders and more than 2,800 hours on airplanes.[3] Nezihe Viranyalı retired from her position as an instructor from the Türkkușu Flight School.

She is quoted as saying

"If you’ve made a good landing, it’s impossible to recapture that joy again on another day. The emotions you experience as you bring your aircraft to the parking place and turn off the engine are nothing less than what great conquerors feel when they storm the gates of a fortress. And you have the right to feel that way. You too are a conqueror, who has just conquered the skies..."[1][4]

Stuart Kline's exhaustive work Türk Havacılık Kronolojisi / A Chronicle of Turkish Aviation mentions her with pictures.[5]

Private life[edit]

In the 1940s, she was one of the few women in Ankara to own an automobile. She enjoyed ice skating and playing the accordion. Besides Bulgarian and Russian, she was also fluent in English and German.[2]

Never married, she spent her last years in a retirement home at Maltepe, Istanbul. One of her legs was amputated because of gangrene following surgery on a fractured foot and shoulder bone.[2][3]

Nezihe Viranyalı died of colon cancer at a hospital in Göztepe, Istanbul. She was buried at the Karacaahmet Cemetery.[6]


In 2004, she was honored with the award "The Successful Turkish Woman" by the newspaper Dünya Gazetesi.


  1. ^ a b Nezihe Viranyalı, Pilot. THY Skylife. August 2004. p. 3. Retrieved December 21, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c d , Durmuş, Fatma (December 5, 2004). "Göklerin Son Kızı" (in Turkish). Yeni Şafak. Retrieved December 21, 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c d Erşan, Hasan (December 28, 2004). "Göklerin Kraliçesi Yoruldu" (in Turkish). Sabah. Retrieved December 21, 2008. 
  4. ^ "Gökyüzünden Bir Yıldız Kaydı: Vidin göçmeni Viranyalı vefat etti" (in Turkish). Rumeli Turk. December 31, 2004. Retrieved December 21, 2008. [dead link]
  5. ^ Kline, Stuart (2002). Turk Havacilik Kronolojisi / A Chronicle of Turkish Aviation (in Turkish). Istanbul: Havaş Yayınları. p. 560. ISBN 975-7054-22-4. Retrieved December 21, 2008. 
  6. ^ Berber, Özner (December 24, 2004). "Nezihe Viranyalı Toprağa Verildi" (in Turkish). Sabah. Retrieved December 21, 2008. [dead link]

This article incorporates information from the revision as of December 21, 2008 of the equivalent article on the Turkish Wikipedia.