Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi

Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi was a legendary Ottoman aviator of Constantinople (present day Istanbul), reported in the writings of traveler Evliya Çelebi to have achieved sustained unpowered flight.

Non-powered flightEdit

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

First, he practiced by flying over the pulpit of Okmeydanı eight or nine times with eagle wings, using the force of the wind. Then, as Sultan Murad Khan (Murad IV) was watching from the Sinan Pasha mansion at Sarayburnu, he flew from the very top of the Galata Tower (in contemporary Karaköy) and landed in the Doğancılar Square in Üsküdar, with the help of the south-west wind. Then Murad Khan granted him a sack of golden coins, and said: "This is a scary man. He is capable of doing anything he wishes. It is not right to keep such people," and thus sent him to Algeria on exile. He died or was executed there.

— Evliyâ Çelebi, [1]

The title "Hezârfen", given by Evliyâ Çelebi to Ahmet Çelebi, is from Persian هزار hezār + فنّ fann meaning "having a thousand technics" (polymath).

Historic accountEdit

In 1648, John Wilkins cites Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, the Austrian ambassador to Constantinople in 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 Ahmet Çelebi is three sentences long (of a ten volume work). The story has great currency in Turkey as he is an inspiration for future generations of aviators.

Site detailsEdit

Glide path from the Galata district in Europe to the Üsküdar district on the Asian side of Istanbul

Measurements of the alleged launch height and flight distance are as follows:

  • The Galata Tower sits 61 m (200 ft) above sea level[3], the peak of its conical dome 66.90 m (219.49 ft) above ground level[4] and 127.9 m (419.62 ft) above sea level.
  • Doğancılar square is about 45 m (148 ft) above sea level.
  • The elevation change between the tower (takeoff) and the square (landing) is 76.9 m (252 ft).
  • The distance between the tower and the town square is approximately 3.358 km (2 mi).[5]
  • Glide ratio required is 44:1. A modern hang glider has a glide ratio of 15:1 on average.
  • Prevailing winds along Bosporus is typically poyraz (tr), from north.

Modern eraEdit


  1. ^ Çelebi, Evliya (2003). Seyahatname. Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Kültür Sanat Yayıncılık, p. 318.
  2. ^ Wilkins, John. Mathematicall Magick or the Wonders that may be performed by Mechanicall Geometry. In two books. Concerning Mechanicall Powers and Motions, London 1648, 204; also see a reprint of the same book in The Mathematical and Philosophical Works of John Wilkins to which is prefixed the author's life and an account of his works, 1802, vol. II, 201
  3. ^ Kurtoğlu, Akın. Galata Kulesi Plan
  4. ^ Wikipedia, Galata Tower
  5. ^ Distance and elevation for this calculation as provided by Google Earth – center of tower to center of square.

External linksEdit