During last week’s Teknofest event in the Turkish capital Ankara, the SOLOTURK aerobatic demonstration team of the Turkish Air Force showcased breathtaking mid-air stunts and maneuvers that captivated audiences from both near and far.
Lt. Col. Emre Mert, the leader of the F-16 demonstration crew, described their performance as a form of artistic expression, akin to “creating a masterpiece in the sky.”
Mert emphasized the dedication and passion that his team poured into their 20-minute air show during the event, which also featured performances by the Turkish Stars, another demonstration team from the Turkish air force, along with helicopters and drones.
4,000 hours of flight experience
“We are aerobatic pilots, but our main duty is fighter piloting,” he said. “Our pilots have 4,000 hours of flight experience, twice the level of other teams in the world.”
There are many F-16 jets and F-16 pilots in the world “but we do this job with all our hearts,” Mert added.
The team leader said the mission of Solo Turk, formed in 2011, is to show the strength and power of the Turkish nation, both at home and abroad.
“The engine of the airplane is its heart, and the pilot is its soul,” he said, adding that “aviation regulations are written in blood” and there must be zero mistakes.
“It is necessary to work every day, again and again, to be mentally and physically ready at all times,” the aviator asserted.
Patented, unique maneuvers
Maj. Murat Bakici, a member of SOLOTURK, said the team has routine training sessions and “we are always ready” for combat.
“To become a SOLOTURK pilot, we go through tough training. Our training system is like a master-apprentice relationship,” he said.
The team prepared a special show for the event with its patented maneuvers such as SOLOTURK takeoff, reverse takeoff, and Solo Turk Tono.
Maj. Yasin Dikkule, another crew member, said, “Besides SOLOTURK, we are fighter jet pilots, so we have a warrior spirit.”
“Our routine combat training continues at the 132nd Weapons Tactics Squadron in Konya,” he added.
Crewman Lt. Alper Sen said he is tasked with music arrangements and announcements at shows to build interest and engage the crowd.
“We feel the high energy and extreme love of our people on stage, which makes our show even more enjoyable,” he added.
Sub-Lt. Muhammed Bolukbasi, who also takes charge as a compere, said their aim is to match the audience’s energy and emotions with the team’s.