Why is International Pilots’ Day celebrated on April 26?


As with a great number of professionals across other industries, there is also a day dedicated to celebrating the importance of pilots.  

The role of pilots, including commercial pilots, flight instructors, private flight crew, fighter jet pilots and recreational pilots, is recognized across the globe during International Pilots’ Day, which takes place on April 26 each year. But have you ever wondered about the origins of this particular celebration?  

What is the significance of April 26? 

While the history of flight spans decades, it wasn’t until 2014 that pilots received an official day of celebration, believed to be initiated by the Turkish Airlines Pilots’ Association (TALPA). However, this date was not decided upon by chance.  

The association selected April 26 to highlight the inaugural flight of the first Turkish pilot, Mehmet Fesa Evrensev, who had played a significant role in the development of Turkish aviation since the early 1910s, 

According to Turkish sources, Fesan Evrensev was the first Turkish military pilot to take part in a number of military flight missions during the Balkan Wars in 1912 and 1913.  

In 1933, around 20 years after his first flight, Fesa Evrensev was appointed Director General of Turkey’s first air transport organization, the Airlines State Operations Administration. This was the predecessor of the country’s current national flag carrier, Turkish Airlines. In 1944, Fesa Evrensev became part of the Turkish Aeronautical Association, where he held a number of managerial positions during his career. 

Celebrating the work of pilots worldwide 

The idea to turn April 26 into an international celebration was further established by the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA). The organization, based in Canada and formed in 1948 to merge various pilot associations into a single unit, currently represents the interests of more than 140,000 pilots worldwide.  

In 2013, IFALPA initiated negotiations to establish a specific date to celebrate Pilots’ Day. 

As TALPA had been the first to celebrate April 26 in honor of Fesa Evrensev’s first flight, IFALPA saw the date and its ties with a prominent piloting figure as an opportunity to recognize the work of all pilots across the globe. The following year, on April 26, 2014, International Pilots’ Day was celebrated for the first time. 

Nine years on from the inaugural International Pilots’ Day 

2023 marks the ninth year of International Pilots’ Day celebrations. More than three years after the COVID-19 pandemic first struck, the aviation industry is beginning to show signs of recovery.  

So, as pilots take to the skies once again following such a challenging time, it is more important than ever to celebrate the hard work, dedication and resilience of pilots around the world. 

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