Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi, the flying Turkish

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Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi, one of the first men in the history of humanity to fly, a story more than ever linked to Galata and the great traveler Evliya Çelebi.

Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi

He was born in İstanbul in 1609 and immediately became famous for his inventions and his intellect, so much so that he earned the nickname of Hezârfen, or “with a thousand techniques”. What will consecrate him to history, however, will be his legendary flight, documented in Evliya Çelebi’s Seyahatnâme.

Çelebi
Evliya Çelebi

The Turkish genius built wings made of wax and feathers and launched himself from the Galata Tower, landing in the district of Üsküdar and covering 3300 meters in flight. The feat was observed live by Sultan Murad IV from his palace and decided to reward him. An entire sack of gold coins was donated to the inventor, but he was forced into exile in Algeria in which, in 1640, he died.

3 lines for history

Hezârfen’s character still remains one of the best known and most celebrated in Turkey, being considered by most as a sort of ancestor of local aviation. The incredible thing, however, is the very limited number of sources about him. In addition to 3 lines of the Seyahatname, in fact, almost nothing is known of the one who most of all symbolized the hazard of the technique.

Galata
The tower of Galata

Very interesting, however, as it relates to another great “proto-aviator”, this time Berber from Andalusia: Abbas ibn Firnas. The legendary scholar was in fact the first to attempt to glide since the time of Icarus, only partially succeeding in his undertaking. Like Hezârfen, he launched himself from one of the towers of Cordova, only partially succeeding in his undertaking due to a not too lucky landing. These two stories in a sense represent a continuum both in time and space, showing even more forcefully how the center of the Islamic world moved.

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