The Historic Life Story Of Ahmet Ali Çelikten

The Historic Life Story Of Ahmet Ali Çelikten The First Black Pilot In The World

Ottoman Air Force Trailblazer Made History Years Before Bullard’s Flight

New evidence suggests Ottoman officer Ahmet Ali Çelikten became the world’s first Black military pilot when he earned his wings in 1915 – earlier than the famed Eugene Jacques Bullard, who flew for France in 1917. Çelikten’s barrier-breaking journey intertwined with seminal events in Turkish history.

Rising to the Skies Amid Global Turbulence

Born in 1883 Izmir to a mother of Nigerian Yoruba descent and an Arabic-Turkish father, Çelikten attended naval school before undergoing pilot training as the Ottoman Empire recognized aviation’s growing military importance pre-WWI.

He received certification in 1915 and joined the air force in 1916, months ahead of Bullard’s French service. Çelikten trained overseas in Berlin and flew combat missions during Turkey’s independence struggle after his brother died fighting in Gallipoli.

Inspiring Generations With Wings and Valor

For his aerial combat operations securing national sovereignty, Çelikten was honored with the esteemed Bahri Aircraft Medal. He helped establish the Turkish republic’s air force infrastructure before his 1949 retirement.

True to his name meaning “iron wing” in Turkish, Çelikten sparked an aviation legacy across extended family. As the first Black military pilot in world history, he cleared skies for those who followed.