Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi

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Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi was a legendary Ottoman of 17th-century Istanbul, purported to have achieved sustained unpowered flight.


Alleged flight

The 17th century writings of Evliyâ Çelebi relate this story of Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi, circa 1630-1632:

The title "Hezârfen", given by Evliyâ Çelebi to Ahmed Çelebi, means "a thousand sciences"  (polymath).

Single report

In 1648 John Wilkins cites Busbecq, the Austrian ambassador to Istanbul 1554-1562, as recording that "a Turk in Constantinople" attempted to fly.[2] 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 Ahmed 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 events.

Site details

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.[3]
  • 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).[4]
  • Glide ratio of 39:1

Popular culture

One of the three airports in Istanbul carries the name "Hezarfen Airfield", while a feature length film, "Istanbul Beneath My Wings" (İstanbul Kanatlarımın Altında, 1996) concerns the lives of Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi, his brother Lagari Hasan Çelebi, and the Ottoman society in the early 17th century, as witnessed and narrated by Evliyâ Çelebi.


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