Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi
Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi was a legendary Ottoman aviator of 17th-century Constantinople (present day Istanbul), purported in the writings of traveler Evliya Çelebi to have achieved sustained unpowered flight.
The 17th century writings of Evliyâ Çelebi relate this story of Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi, circa 1630–1632:
First, he practiced by flying over the pulpit of Okmeydanı eight or nine times with eagle wings, using the force of the wind. Then, as Sultan Murad Khan (Murad IV) was watching from the Sinan Pasha mansion at Sarayburnu, he flew from the very top of the Galata Tower (in contemporary Karaköy) and landed in the Doğancılar Square in Üsküdar, with the help of the south-west wind. Then Murad Khan granted him a sack of golden coins, and said: "This is a scary man. He is capable of doing anything he wishes. It is not right to keep such people," and thus sent him to Algeria on exile. He died there.— Evliyâ Çelebi, 
In 1648, John Wilkins cites Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, the Austrian ambassador to Constantinople in 1554–1562, as recording that "a Turk in Constantinople" attempted to fly. However, if accurate, this citation refers to an event nearly a century prior to the exploits reported by Evliyâ Çelebi.
Evliyâ Çelebi's account of the exploits of Hezârfen Ahmet Çelebi is only three sentences long (of a ten volume work), but the story has great currency in Turkey. Other than Evliyâ Çelebi's report, there are no other contemporary references to the event.
Measurements of the alleged launch height and flight distance are as follows:
- The Galata Tower sits 35 m (115 ft) above sea level, the peak of its conical dome 62.59 m (205.35 ft) above ground level and 97.59 m (320.18 ft) above sea level.
- Doğancılar square is about 12 m (39 ft) above sea level.
- The elevation change between the tower (takeoff) and the square (landing) is 85.59 m (281 ft).
- The distance between the tower and the square is approximately 3.358 km (2 mi).
- Glide ratio required is 39:1.
- One of three airports in Istanbul is named the "Hezarfen Airfield".
- A mosque next to the Istanbul Atatürk Airport bears the appellation "Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi".
- A 1996 feature-length film, "Istanbul Beneath My Wings" (İstanbul Kanatlarımın Altında) concerns the lives of Hezârfen Ahmet Çelebi, his brother and rocket aviator Lagari Hasan Çelebi, and Ottoman society in the early 17th century, as witnessed and narrated by Evliyâ Çelebi.
- Çelebi, Evliya (2003). Seyahatname. Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Kültür Sanat Yayıncılık, p. 318.
- Wilkins, John. Mathematicall Magick or the Wonders that may be performed by Mechanicall Geometry. In two books. Concerning Mechanicall Powers and Motions, London 1648, 204; also see a reprint of the same book in The Mathematical and Philosophical Works of John Wilkins to which is prefixed the author's life and an account of his works, 1802, vol. II, 201
- Official Galata Tower Web Site
- Distance and elevation for this calculation as provided by Google Earth – center of tower to center of square.