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Being the First Turkish Female Pilot on an Airbus A380 Aircraft!

Issue 3 - 2020
Being the First Turkish Female Pilot on an Airbus A380 Aircraft!
Interview with Pilot Safiye Âdemoğlu Türkyılmaz...

The Dubai Air Show has an interesting story and has come to the fore in global trade during the last 25 years. The event was held this year on November 17- 21, 2019 in Dubai.

This fair started being organized in 1986 as a small trade fair called "Arab Air" at the Dubai World Trade Center (DWTC). In 1989, it was then organized at Dubai Airport with 200 participants and 25 aircraft covering civil and military aviation. The fair, which was held at El Maktum Airport this year with its growing momentum over time, has become a huge organization with more than 1,200 companies in attendance and 160 aircraft from 87 countries and a business volume of US$ 54.5 billion.

The Dubai Aviation Fair is a commercial event that is followed with interest in terms of global aviation and it offers a meeting and recreation environment to aviators within the elements of the city that support this fair. As a team, we attended the fair to follow the activities/events realized within the scope of the fair, and to obtain first-hand reviews of the content and publication quality of the second issue of Aviation Turkey magazine, which we have configured as a communication channel between Turkish aviation and global aviation. I also had the opportunity to meet and have a pleasant conversation with Safiye Âdemoğlu Türkyılmaz, another figure in Turkish aviation.

I took the opportunity to meet dear Safiye during the Dubai Air Show, to give place her as “The First Turkish Woman A380 Pilot” in my study titled "Turkish Women in the Development Process of the Turkish National Aviation & Aerospace”, where I would like to pay tribute to the leading women aviators in Turkey, and in my conference using this study as a source.

Together with the valuable staff of Aviation Turkey magazine, we conducted a short interview with dear Safiye at the Dubai Shopping Mall as the first of a series of studies that we will do with her in the future.

For our distinguished readers, we wanted to make a difference at Aviation Turkey magazine at the Dubai Airshow. We met with dear Safiye, who serves in Turkey as a pilot of the Airbus A380 aircraft as the face of the Turkish woman, on November 18, 2019 in Dubai - UAE.

Safiye has been living in Turkey for a long time and has been exciting the Turkish people with her work that make us very proud. While flying all over the world with the A380 aircraft, the world’s biggest commercial air vehicle, she keeps our flag flying.

Let`s start our short interview...

Can Erel (CE): Hello Safiye, welcome…

Safiye Ademoğlu Türkyılmaz (SAT): Thank you, I’m glad to be here…

CE: You graduated from the Middle East Technical University before you started your profession. First of all, I would like to know how you started working in the aviation sector and how you became a role model.

SAT: Of course, let me tell you briefly. I was born and raised in Bulgaria in a small village. I came to Istanbul when I was 12 years old.

It was my childhood dream to be a pilot... I couldn’t become a military pilot due to an eye disorder. Then I applied to the TK Academy and studied in the US.

During this process, I stepped into aviation and now I`m flying an Airbus A380 aircraft.

CE: May I ask the importance of the school you studied at for the level you have reached today in your profession?

SAT: The Middle East Technical University?

CE: Yes, METU!

SAT: Of course, METU expanded my horizons very much.

CE: A university like this has undoubtedly made this path shorter and more effective.

SAT: Yes, certainly...

CE: On this occasion, let’s remember those who have established this valuable university and the pride and respect that our METU graduates bring to our country.

SAT: Yes.

CE:What kind of motivation encouraged you in this way when you decided to be a pilot in a different country to fly an aircraft that was not available in our inventory? You have been in a male-dominated occupation for about ten years now, and this platform is a little bit different from others.

SAT: Yes.

CE: How did you feel about it? What did your parents and your spouse feel about your decision?

SAT: First of all, my family did not believe me when I applied to become a pilot; they thought I was not convincing. When they saw that I was successful on this subject later, they supported me a lot.

When I was in Istanbul, flying an Airbus A380 was my dream. But there was no A380 in the fleet of my previous company. So it was an aircraft I couldn`t fly there, but it was always on my mind. There is another pride of flying an A380 aircraft carrying 650 passengers...

I started flying on an Airbus A320 as the First Officer, with my dream of flying an A380... Now I am living the dream of being a pilot in command on this aircraft...

CE: When do you think you will you become an A380 pilot?

SAT: I expect to be an A380 pilot in command within the next 3 years.

CE: You are a married woman with a child, and you are pursuing a longtime dream... Therefore, you can make an evaluation for the biggest concerns of women who think about this issue, as a working mother and for those who are concerned about starting a family and having a child while piloting... Because you are one of the best examples which prove this is very well possible. We would be glad if you could share a bit with us about how your family supports you in such a position...

SAT: Yes, I’ve been asked this question a lot; what are you doing as a mother, how can you manage this during the flights? First of all, I should mention that a supportive spouse is incredibly important in this regard...

I was constantly telling my son, starting from his babyhood…” look mommy is going to fly now, but I`ll be back ..." He`s such a mature and understanding child now; Although he’s two and a half years old, he doesn’t cry, when I leave, he waves at me and says “see you mom, have a good flight!".

It is not difficult when there is sympathy and understanding; it’s a profession that can be done successfully with family support.

I hereby strongly recommend it to all young girls... If you really have the desire inside your heart, the desire to fly, please do not give up, try hard. Piloting is a profession that can easily be performed with family support.

CE: Is it possible to do this work without support?

SAT: It’s difficult without support; raising a child would be difficult, so your spouse must understand you first.

CE: Let’s also talk about the issue of gender balance in aviation. This is something that we have been trying to address and develop for a long time. In the aviation industry, you are one of the flag-bearers in our struggle to increase the number and level of women by providing equal opportunities to both genders in the aviation industry. Soon, I’ll have an interview series called "Being a Woman Aviator in this Geography ..."

SAT: Great!

CE: In the first interview in this series, I would like include this interview with you as "The First Turkish Woman A380 Pilot" and then I would like to refer you, with this title, in the conference titled "Turkish Women in the Development Process of the Turkish National Aviation & Aerospace".

SAT: Sure, thank you very much!

CE: Now, let me hand you over to my other colleagues...

Şebnem Akalın (ŞA): Thank you very much firstly for both taking the time and sharing your experiences with us, because we know that piloting is a difficult job for a woman.

SAT: It looks quite difficult, you’re right...

Şebnem AKALIN (ŞA): Although it is difficult, it is not a profession that cannot be achieved as a woman as you have mentioned since the beginning of our interview. Thank you very much for sharing such beneficial information.

Muhammed Yılmaz (MY): Thank you very much, first of all, for taking the time ... In fact, I have a question that everyone is often curious about and I am sure you have been this question asked many times. Have ever had an unforgettable moment while flying the Airbus A380, whether negative or positive? Except for your first flight, you probably haven`t forgotten your first flight with the A380...

SAT: Absolutely, I couldn`t forget my first flight, you`re right. However, we haven’t experienced any technical problems.

MY: Great; I hope you don`t ever experience any issues.

SAT: I hope we don`t... the A380 is a long-haul aircraft and it`s really safe...

CE: If you have the chance to come back again to this world, would you follow the same path?

SAT: I would be a pilot again, yes!

CE: You are crystal clear?

SAT: So very clear, yes. Actually, I don’t have a particular aircraft preference, I just really like to fly.

CE: You took the time for this short interview, you left your child and spouse at home and you were with us on your day off, thank you very much we appreciate it.

And I was looking forward to publishing this valuable interview on a very important day for Turkish aviation and for Turkish women. Finally, the moment came… the 106th anniversary of the flight of Ms. Belkıs Şevket, a member of the "Association for the Protection of Women`s Rights" and one of the writers of Kadınlar Dünyası (“The World of Women”) journal...

I am really happy to talk about this important day in this article and to be able to commemorate both of the developments led by our proud women.

I had better talk about this day briefly:

Ms. Belkıs Şevket flew on the Deperdussin aircraft named "Ottoman" under the control the pilot Fethi Bey, over the field of the Pilot Ayastefanos Aviation School on December 1, 1913, for the publicity of the Turkish woman and collecting monetary aid to donate a plane to the Ottoman army.

Taking into account that Belkıs Şevket, who distributed informative leaflets during this flight, had a flight mission (other than passenger status), and considering that she was "The First Turkish Aviatrix" in addition to her title of "The First Turkish Woman Flying by Plane", and that she was also a Muslim woman in addition to being a Turkish woman, I hereby propose once more that this should be accepted and declared accordingly by the related authorities.

I would like to convey my sincere thanks to Şebnem Akalın and Muhammet Yılmaz for attending this valuable interview with me, where I commemorate these two important and sources of pride for Turkish women, and my thanks to Cem Akalın who recorded this interview and to Ayşe Betül Ercan who deciphered the audio recording.


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