Florine of Burgundy (1083-1097) was a French princess and a famous participant in the First Crusade.
Florine was a princess of the Duchy of Burgundy, a vassal state of the Kingdom of France. As a teenager she was married to the Danish prince, Sweyn the Crusader, with whom she set out with an army of 1500 Danish horsemen to join the First Crusade. While leading their army at a fast pace across the plains of Cappadocia they were ambushed by Turkish forces which overwhelmed them.
Florine and Sweyn were forced to defend themselves in a prolonged combat for a whole day, while the entirety of their army was slain around them. Florine sustained a number of arrow wounds but the two continued fight their way to safety in the nearby mountains. However they eventually succumbed to their attackers and died in battle. Florine was 14 years old.
Sabiha Gökçen was a Turkish aviator and the world’s first female fighter pilot.
Gökçen was one of the 8 adopted children of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey. It was Ataturk who gave her the surname Gökçen, meaning ‘belonging to the sky’. In 1935 he took Gökçen to the opening ceremony of the Turkishbird Flight School, which inspired her to attend the Air Force Academy the following year.
She honed her skills by flying bomber and fighter planes in the 1st Aircraft Regiment and in 1937 took part in the military operation against the Dersim rebellion, also known as the Dersim Massacre, making her the first Turkish female air force combat pilot. A report of her actions describes the "serious damage" inflicted by the 50kg bomb she dropped upon a group of 50 fleeing “bandits.” She was awarded the Turkish Aeronautical Assosciation’s first Jeweled Medal for her performance in this operation.
In 1938 Gökçen carried out a five-day flight around the Balkans to great acclaim, and continued to fly until 1964. Throughout her career, she flew 22 different types of aircraft for more than 8000 hours, 32 hours of which were active combat and bombardment missions. An airport in Istanbul is named after her.
[Read more about Sabiha Gökçen]