Turkish Air Force appoints female squadron commander for first time
KONYAPilot Maj. Esra Özatay has been appointed to the commander of the “Türk Yıldızları” (Turkish Stars) air acrobatics team’s 134th Squadron, becoming the first female military officer to hold such post in the history of the Turkish Air Force.
Pilot Lt. Col. Şenol Çetin handed over his post as the 134th Squadron commander to Özatay on Sept. 8 in a ceremony after three years of serving with the company, one as the commander, a statement issued on the acrobatics team’s website read.
A 1998 graduate of the Air Force Academy, Özatay completed her pilot training at the Çiğli 2nd Main Jet Base Group Command in the Aegean province of İzmir between 1998 and 2000. She was later appointed to the Konya 3rd Main Jet Base Group Command and ultimately appointed to the 134th Wing in 2014. Since then, she has been actively participating in stunt flying as “The Number 4.”
Özatay follows legendary Turkish pilot Sabiha Gökçen, the world’s first female fighter pilot, who enrolled in Turkey’s Military Aviation Academy in 1936. Built in 2001, Istanbul’s second airport on the Asian side is named after Gökçen.
Formed in 1992, the Türk Yıldızları are based in the Central Anatolian province of Konya and conduct stunt and training flights with NF-5A and NF-5B aircraft, according to its official website.
In April, Konya Metropolitan Municipality opened the country’s first aviation-themed park, which is dedicated to the Türk Yıldızları.