Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s plane was saved from being shot down on the night of the July 15 failed coup attempt when an F-16 fighter jet flown by coup plotting pilots was forced to turn back and refuel, according to sources cited by pro-government daily Yeni Şafak.
After making a call on broadcaster CNN Türk late on July 15 for citizens to hit the streets against the coup attempting soldiers, Erdoğan moved from the resort town of Marmaris to Dalaman, where he would get on his TC-ATA plane and travel to Istanbul Atatürk
The garrison commander in Dalaman, Maj. Murat Selçuk Çol, prepared the plane in extreme secrecy, shutting down all lights on the tarmac to prevent any other aerial vehicles from landing, the pro-government daily reported, while pilots loyal to the state prevented Erdoğan’s flight information from leaking to the coup plotters.
Still, Erdoğan’s jet changed its direct route to Istanbul over information of sharp moves by F-16 jets abducted by the coup pilots and the plane circled the skies of the northwestern district of Bandırma for around half an hour as a precaution.
This was reportedly when an F-16 flying above Istanbul’s Bosphorus recognized the Gulfstream model plane carrying Erdoğan and turned towards it.
The F-16 ran out of fuel as it came within missile range and turned back, Yeni Şafak said.