Monday, November 30, 2015

Meet Turkey's first professional female aerobatic pilot

Semin Öztürk, 24, enjoys being Turkey's first female professional aerobatic pilot. Daily Sabah spoke to Öztürk to delve into the life of a young and dedicated pilot, who describes flying as a ‘love'.

Flying shows are always amusing to viewers, as they wonder how aerobatic pilots dance in the air so skillfully. It is difficult to understand how they perform various maneuvers like twirling, tumbling and twisting in airplanes that would normally seem impossible to do.

Semin Öztürk, Turkey's first professional female aerobatic pilot, is one of these pilots and she risks her life each time she is in the cockpit. Aerobatic flying is indeed a form of art, and Öztürk describes what she does as more than a passion, but "love."

Since her first flight at the age of 12, Öztürk has not feared anything when she is in her airplane. Daily Sabah had the opportunity to talk to Öztürk, a young, dedicated woman, and share a day in the life of an aerobatic pilot.

Daily Sabah: How did your interest in aerobatics begin? What would you like to say about the role of your father, Ali İsmet Öztürk, also a professional aerobatic pilot, in your career choice?

Semin Öztürk: My father Ali İsmet Öztürk started aerobatic flight when I was nine. This was the first time I saw him as an aerobatic pilot and not just a father. I fell under its spell immediately and wanted to fly with him. However, each occupant of the aircraft must wear a parachute, and I was too small to wear one. This is why I waited three years. My biggest dream was to grow big enough to take an aerobatic flight with my parachute on my back. From the very beginning, my father has always supported me and led me to discover myself.

DS: You made your first flight at the age of 12. Could you share your first aviation experience as far as you can remember?

SÖ: I had just turned 12. I was old enough to wear my parachute. I was feeling very excited and happy because the moment I had been waiting for for three years had finally come. My father accompanied me during my first aerobatic flight. We made the final controls together. This flight was a turning point in my life, as after that, aerobatic flight became a passion in my life.

DS: Where did you complete your aviation training?

SÖ:  I received my private pilot license from Ayjet Flight School when I was 21. I was in my second year of university. After I received the license, I was allowed to fly alone. Later, I received aerobatic flight education at the Tutima Academy of Aviation Safety in the U.S. When I returned home, I began to embark on flights unaccompanied.

DS: In a previous interview, we learned that you are afraid of heights. Does this affect you while you are flying? If so, how do you overcome it?

That is true. I have acrophobia. When I look out of a high building, I feel thrilled and scared. However, my fear of heights does not affect my flying. Everything is different when I am in the plane. I am the one who controls it. This is what makes me feel safe when I am in the air.

DS: It is obvious that aerobatic pilots undertake very strict training. How does your training go, and what do you do to complete effective training?

SÖ: I take two-month training camps, which occur in a very busy and intensive atmosphere. Every day, I make two or three training flights. What I do is fully focus on flying. I pay extra attention to my sleep and food. I do not consume fatty foods and stay away from anything that might affect my blood pressure as much as possible. I follow a special diet rich in protein and vegetables and continuously consume water. During aerobatic flights, pilots are generally affected by G-force, a movement that influences your body and wears you out. This is why we take frequent training flights to adjust our body to it. When I do not have training flights in my program, I attend courses.

DS: How does it feel being Turkey's first professional female aerobatic pilot?

SÖ:  I have been studying aerobatic flights for years. I had my first air show at Airshow SHG 2015 at the Sivrihisar International Sportive Aviation Center in September. I am happy to reap the fruits of my efforts and feel responsible for young people who are willing to become aerobatic pilots in the future. I receive both positive and negative feedback during my training sessions. There are some people who do not understand the struggle I endure while flying and have a biased perception. It is difficult to exist as a woman in Turkey, and I also encounter difficulties on my path. Still, there are more young people interested in aviation and aerobatic flights these days. I also feel happy to see them and am ready to support this profession, raising more aerobatic pilots in Turkey as much as I can.



  1. ok, so now i am headed to Turkey to learn aerobatics.... What a stunner !