The Cairo Campaign
I need a photo of him. If you can help, please contact me.
I need a photo of him. If you can help, please contact me.
Salim Ilkucan
Kemal Bey
Salim Ilkucan and Kemal Bey
Submitted by Naci Yavuz
Courtesy of Stuart Kline, 1-31-06

via email from Stuart Kline, 4-15-06
Dear Ralph,
     Thanks for the link regarding Salim Ilkucan. His surname is spelled I with a dot over the I and a tail on the "c". It means "First to Fly".
     Actually, he was the 10th officer to return to Istanbul from France in 1912 with a pilot's certificate. Of the 10, only 4 or 5 made aviation their careers. Though I don't know it in complete detail, his story is quite colorful. He and Kemal and some of the others such as Fazil, Fethi, Nuri and Mehmet Fesa flew against the Bulgarians in the Balkan War of 1912-1913.
     He and Kemal took off from Kirklareli in Western Thrace one day in 1913, headed for Ayastefanos (Yesikoy) and due to a faulty compass and bad weather, ended up flying across the Marmara Sea and landed in Bandýrma. They were the first to fly across the Marmara.
     Salim and Kemal were to complete the ill-fated 1914 journey from Istanbul to Alexandria, via Konya - Damascus - Beirut - Cairo. They loaded their Blériot XI-2 "Edremit" on board a steamer in Istanbul and sailed for Beirut, from where they completed the journey by air. They were greeted as heroes in Cairo.
      In November of the same year, after the Ottoman Empire entered The Great War on the side of the Germans and Austrian-Hungary Empire, Salim and Mehmet Fesa were dispatched to the Eastern Front on board a steamer with two Blériots. The convey was ambushed near the mouth of the Black Sea and some of the vessels were sunk, including the one the pilots were travelling on. They were taken prisoner, not to be released for five and a half years. I don't know if they were released or if they escaped. I do know that during the interim, Mehmet Fesa's family thought he had died and when Mehmet Fesa returned to Istanbul in 1920, he found that all his belongings were given away or thrown out.
      Mehmet Fesa, for your information, was the first pilot in the Ottoman Army, having made his first flight in Istanbul on April 26th, 1912. Today, this date is celebrated in Turkey as "Pilot's Day". Mehmet Fesa applied for a replacement certificate from the Aero Club of France in 1948. He passed away in 1951.
      Anyways, Salim and Mehmet returned to Turkey in 1920 to join the Nationalist Movement, headed by Mustafa Kemal, and they, along with a handful of pilots and even fewer aircraft and spare parts, had to basically start from scratch as the victorious Allies impounded whatever they could find at the various air stations in Istanbul and throughout Anatolia. Salim went on to become the Manager of the Air Machinists' School (Hava Makinist Mektebi) in Yesilkoy, which was established in 1926. He also was the Manager of the Flight School in Eskisehir Hava Mektebi Komutanligi). He passed away in 1937. There is a street named after him in Yesilkoy, Istanbul. His grandson, with whom I visited just a few days ago, is also named Salim Ilkucan.
     Regarding Kemal Bey, I really don't know much about him. I do know that his great-nephew, Kemal Dervis, is currently working at the United Nations. I met Kemal Dervis' son, Erol Dervis about six months ago and briefly shared some of my material with him. Gotta fly. Take care of yourself, Ralph.

via email from Stuart Kline, 1-31-06
Dear Ole & Friends,
     I had an adventure of a day yesterday culminated with the acquisition of these amazing attached photos. Apparently, according to the gentleman who provided me with them, Naci Yavuz, the source of these photos is Denmark. Your comments regarding them are highly appreciated.
     The hi-rez photos were taken in May, 1914 in either Beirut or Egypt. The pilots in the close-up shots are Salim Ilkucan and Kemal Bey, the great-uncle of Kemal Dervis, who works at the UN. The aircraft is the "Edremit" Blériot XI.

via email from Wassim Chemaitelli, 4-7-06
Dear Ralph
     Thank you for your message. I agree with your identification of Salim Bey and Kemal Bey. The 1914 photo was taken in Cairo and not in Beirut. This can be assumed by the people's dress, and is confirmed by the date; the pilots were in Beirut in April and got to Egypt only in May 1914 (the chronology of their flight is also on my page).
     The Cedarjet Pages are a hobby of mine. I can only share your fascination with these early pioneers and congratulate you for your nice tribute page. Please feel free to use any info you need for your site from the Cedarjet Pages.
Best Regards,

"Edremit" Blériot XI.
Cairo, Egypt - May, 1914
Submitted by Naci Yavuz
Courtesy of Stuart Kline, 1-31-06

     If you search for "Salim Bey" +aviation, using the Google search engine, (4-8-06), you will find about 19 links, most of them in English or French. If you search simply for "Salim Bey," you will find about 830 links. Among the most helpful are the following.
"A Story of Courage"
"The Cairo Campaign
Newspapers printed this story on February 6, 1914; it was to be understood only later that this was the courageous story of six people on a 2,500 km long trek, extending from Istanbul to Alexandria."..

     The paragraph above introduces a very helpful summary of the campaign and offers many of the details of the participation of Samil Bey and Kemal Bey in its successful completion. It is found on the website of NEWSPOT and offers a summary of this important event in the history of the development of aviation in Turkey. It includes several priceless photographs of the participants with special mention of the roles of early heroes Captain Fethi Bey and First Lieutenant Nuri Bey who perished on the flight. You can access the site by clicking on the title above.

By Wassim Chemaitelli
     This page, on the Cedarjet website, presents a revue of the events that surrounded the arrival of the first airplanes to Lebanon, and the early years of aviation in the Middle East. It is very interesting in its own light, but is especially valuable in that it offers a revue of Salim Bey and Kemal Bey's flight to Cairo. You can access the page by clicking on the title above.
     If time permits, you will be rewarded to read the entire article. It is replete with stories, photographs, maps, etc. and also offers a number of references and links.

     If you search for "Salim Ilkucan", using the Google search engine, (4-15-06), you will find about 74 links, most of them in Turkish. Unfortunately, I don't read Turkish, so the many links are of no help to me. I also tried several of the online machine-translation programs, but they only yielded gibberish. If you read Turkish and find anything of interest which might be of interest to me and my visitors, I hope you will share it with us.

Salim Ilkucan died in 1937. Personal communication from Stuart Kline
If you have any more information on this pioneer aviator
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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