By Margaret Sheard …
On our first visit to Geçitkale Airport we met the President of the TRNC Air Sports Federation, Zeki Ziya, together with instructor pilot Serkan Özcezarli, who gave us some information about the Association which was formed in 2005.
There are many activities at the airport, which are now available, Gyrocopter training, Microlight training, parascending, model aircraft activities. The Association welcomes parties of schoolchildren who must be amazed at what they see. The airport is no longer functional for air traffic but it is ideal for the current type of activities of the TRNC Air Sports Federation, which also organised the Paragliding Accuracy World Cup in February 2018 at Tatlisu, North Cyprus with 88 participants from 19 countries.
Under the title Cyprus Aviation History, an airline pilot contributed articles for publication on cyprusscene.com website and this included one about Geçitkale Airport. To see this article click here. As a result of this we decided to see if we could visit and see the airport for ourselves but on arrival at the gate we were told very politely by a large policeman that the airport was closed and we could not be allowed access.
This took me back to the time when I visited North Cyprus and actually landed at Geçitkale Airport on two occasions at the time Ercan Airport was undergoing refurbishment. I can still visualise the very small arrivals/departures area.
We eventually were able to visit the airport through a contact where we first met Zeki Ziya and Serkan Özcezarli. It was sad to see the state of the airport now but who knows maybe at some time in the future it could spring into life again. A few weeks later we had a return visit to be able to see students going through their Gyrocopter training. How exciting this second visit turned out to be.
When we arrived Serkan was just taxiing to the front of the hangar so we were able to have a brief chat with him before the first of his students got herself ready for her training flight. This was Hale, the wife of Gökhan Hançer, who was also going to have a training flight following his wife’s session. Serkan told us that in order to apply for a full licence, the students needed at least 30 hours of training flying. Currently Serkan is giving 6 flying lessons every day, 5 days a week, starting at around 7am, so it seems there are many who are interested in this very different type of activity. Hopefully the club will be able to purchase another 2 Gyrocopters in the future to cope with the increasing interest.
Gökhan and Hale Hançer have been learning to fly a Gyrocopter for a year and both have 33 hours training so will soon be applying for their licences which are issued from mainland Turkey. The couple live in Lefkoşa and have a web design company, ATA Bilisim, they also have 2 young children, Ata and Hale, so we were amazed that they still find time for this exciting hobby. They came from Mersin in Turkey in 2004, when Gökhan attended university in North Cyprus, and they decided to make their home here.
While Hale was flying we drove out with Gökhan to be able to see more of her training manoeuvres, one of which was she actually turned off the rear engine which drives the Gyrocopter and then she was able to glide it safely before turning the engine back on and doing some more circuits before eventually landing near to us. It was then Gökhan’s turn to take over for his session. We watched him circling and also carrying out various manoeuvres before Hale then drove us back to the hangar to await his return. The video below shows Gökhan during an emergency landing training session switching off the engine and gliding in to land.
When the training sessions were complete, Serkan then had paperwork to complete for the couple with the results of that day’s training. Everything was very professional and we were very impressed with the procedures. To visit Serkan’s Facebook page click here
When Gökhan and Hale receive their licences, we hope to be able to attend at Geçitkale when they are presented to them. They will be able to fly Gyrocopters in many countries worldwide and they hope at some time in the future they will perhaps be able to purchase a Gyrocopter of their own.
We were pleased to receive some additional information and photographs from Serkan. There are new candidates who will be undergoing flight training soon and they are initially receiving in-house instruction. There seems to be a great deal of growing interest in this very different hobby.
This is yet another great boost for North Cyprus tourism and we hope many tourists who have an interest in this type of activity will take advantage of being able to do Gyrocopter or Microlight flying and other air related activities with the TRNC Air Sports Federation.
A very interesting video showing emergency landing training. This was actually flight training for Gökhan Hançer who we met during our last visit. Well done Gökhan.