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Władysław Turowicz

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Title: Władysław Turowicz  
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Subject: Pakistan–Poland relations, Salim Mehmud, Abdul Qadeer Khan, List of Pakistani scientists, SUPARCO
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Władysław Turowicz

Władysław Józef Marian Turowicz
Wladyslaw Turowicz's photo at Monument of Air Cdre Władysław Turowicz in Karachi
Born (1908-04-23)23 April 1908
Zudyra, Siberia, Russia[1]
Died 8 January 1980(1980-01-08) (aged 71)
Karachi, Pakistan
Residence Karachi, Pakistan
Citizenship Pakistan (1956–1980)
Nationality Poland
Fields Aeronautical Engineering

Polish Air Force Academy
Royal Air Force College Cranwell
Pakistan Air Force Academy

Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission
Alma mater Warsaw Polytechnic, Poland
Doctoral advisor Dr. Antoni Kocjan
Notable students Abdul Majid (physicist)
Known for Pakistan's Space Program
Pakistan Air Force pioneer
Missile and Rocket Technology
Influenced Dr. Ryszard Bartel
Notable awards Sitara-e-Pakistan (1965)
Tamgha-i-Pakistan (1967)
Sitara-i-Khidmat (1967)
Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam (1971)
Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Mil) (1972)
Abdus Salam Award in Aeronautical Engineering (1978)
ICTP Award in Space Physics (1979)

Air Commodore Władysław Józef Marian Turowicz (23 April 1908 – 8 November 1980), [Sitara-e-Pakistan], [Sitara-i-Khidmat], [Tamgha-i-Pakistan], [Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam], Sitara-i-Imtiaz, usually referred to as Air Cdre. W. J. M. Turowicz, was a prominent and noted Polish-Pakistani military scientist and an aeronautical engineer.

Turowicz was the administrator of Pakistan's Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) from 1967 to 1970. He was one of forty five Polish officers and airmen who joined RPAF on contract in the early fifties. After completion of his initial contract, Turowicz opted to stay on in Pakistan and continued to serve in PAF and later, SUPARCO.

Turowicz made significant contributions to Pakistan's missile/rocket program as a chief aeronautical engineer. In Pakistan, he remains highly respected as a scientist and noted aeronautical engineer.

Early life and education

Turowicz was born in Zubir, Siberia, in 1908, where he graduated from High School. From an early age on, Turowicz was fascinated by aviation technology and had collected different models of aircraft. Due to this passion, he moved to Warsaw where he attended the most prestigious engineering institute, Warsaw University of Technology (WTU) in 1920, majoring in aeronautical engineering; upon graduation, he received his PhD with honours in 1926.[2] While at Warsaw University of Technology, Turowicz joined and became a pioneering member of a Aeroklub Polski (better known as Polish Aero Club) where he had previliged to study and work with noted Polish engineers to the field of aerospace engineering. A distinguished member of Polski Club, he had an opportunity to study and work with Ryszard Bartel, Jerzy Drzewiecki, Henry Millicer, are name to few. It was here at the Aero Club that Turowicz met his future wife, Zofia Turowicz[3] with whom he would have 4 children. In addition, he completed an MSc in astrodynamics in 1927 from the same institution.[2] He joined the Polish Air Force as an aeronautical engineer and fighter pilot, but later emigrated to United Kingdom where he joined the Royal Air Force in 1930 as a reservist Polish pilot.[2]

World War II and RAF career

Though initially joining the Polish Air Force, Turowicz enlisted as a Royal Air Force reservist during World War II. He was immediately sent to Great Britain where he flew the British-built Handley Page Halifax during the war. Later, he was transferred into the Royal Air Force Aeronautics division where he served as Technical Inspector, and was put in charge of aircraft electrical and system information, organising, testing, and evaluating aircraft. After World War II, Turowicz did not return to Poland due to the official negative attitude towards those who had served with the Allied Forces during the war.

Career with Pakistan Air Force

As the political situation in Poland got worse, many Polish Air Force officers began to move to United States, Australia, Norway and Canada. Turowicz and forty five of his colleagues opted to move to Pakistan in 1948 on a three-year contract.

Turowicz set up technical institutes in Karachi. He taught and revitalised Pakistan Air Force Academy where he worked there as a chief scientist. He initially led the technical training in the airbase and a part of the Polish specialists in the technical section in Karachi.

In 1952, Turowicz, was promoted in the rank of Wing Commander. In 1959, Turowicz was promoted in the rank of Group Captain. In 1960, he became an Air Commodore and an Assistant Chief of Air Staff, in charge of PAF's Maintenance Branch.

Air Cdre Władysław Józef Marian Turowicz
Nickname(s) Air Cdre Wlady
Born 1908
Died 1980
Allegiance  Pakistan
 United Kingdom
Service/branch Pakistan Air Force (1947–1980)
Royal Air Force (1930–1947)
Polish Air Force (1927–1930)
Years of service 1927–1980
Rank Air Commodore
Battles/wars World War II
Other work Administrator and chief scientist at SUPARCO

Pakistan's Space Program

In 1966, the Government of Pakistan transferred him to SUPARCO, Pakistan's national space agency, where he worked there as a chief scientist and an aeronautical engineer. He, along with noted Pakistani theoretical physicist, Dr. Abdus Salam, who later won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979, met with President Khan where he successfully convinced him of the importance of a space program for a developing country like Pakistan after Russia's launch of Sputnik.

He along with Dr. Salam travelled through to the United States to reach a space-co-operation agreement. He successfully convinced the United States Government to invest and train Pakistan's scientists in the field of rocket technology.

SUPARCO Administrator

Turowicz was appointed head of SUPARCO in 1967 by the Government of Pakistan. As the administrator, he revitalised and initiated the space program as quickly as possible. As a noted aeronautical engineer, Air. Cdre. Władysław Turowicz upgraded Sonmiani Satellite Launch Centre in which he was responsible for installing Flight-Test Control Command, Launch Pad Control System and System Engineering Division.

Turowicz started a project for the fabrication and launch of a Pakistani satellite. As a result Pakistan mastered the field of rocket technology by the end of the 1970s. He also set up the educational engineering institute at the SUPARCO.


Zofia, Turowicz's wife, and his two daughters joined him in Karachi in 1949, where a third daughter was born. Between 1950 and 1954, Zofia taught gliding to the Shaheen Air Cadets in Karachi and Rawalpindi. Two of his daughters married Pakistanis while the third daughter married a Bangladeshi. His widow, Zofia Turowicz, who died in 2012, was awarded the Pride of Performance and Sitara-i-Imtiaz, and taught applied mathematics and particle physics at the Karachi University. Turowicz's son is currently working at the SUPARCO as an aerospace engineer and chief scientist.[4]


A documentary film on the life and scientific work of Air Cdre Władysław Turowicz was completed in 2008. It was directed by Anna T. Pietraszek, a Polish journalist and film-maker with an honorary Pakistani citizenship. The film shows how Air Cdre Turowicz and other Polish officers and technicians had contributed in building the PAF and SUPARCO soon after independence.

Death and Legacy

Air. Cdre. Turowicz was involved in a car accident on 8 January 1980 along with his driver. He was quickly taken to the military hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was buried in the Christian Cemetery in Karachi with full military honours. Both Polish, including the Consul-General of Poland in Karachi Mr. Kazimierz Maurer, and Pakistani military and civilian personnel attended his funeral in Karachi. The Government of Pakistan issued a condolence letter to his family, stating that Turowicz was not only an outstanding Air Force officer, but also a scientist, and had served in the country's space program.

Honours and Recognitions

In 2005, PAF Museum, Karachi, placed a memorial plaque in the honour of Air. Cdre. Władysław Turowicz where both Polish and Pakistani civilian and military personnel attended. On this occasion the Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Karachi Ireneusz Makles profoundly thanked the PAF and especially Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman and other officers for their efforts to make this memorial a reality.

Honorary monument

  • Monument of Władysław Turowicz in Karachi (PAF Museum, Karachi).
  • Władysław Turowicz Space Complex (SUPARCO), Lahore Center.


See also


  1. ^ "Z RAF do RPAF – polscy lotnicy na niebie Pakistanu" (in Polish). 16 November 2010. Retrieved 16 December 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c "Life Sketch of Air Commodore Wladyslaw Turowicz of Pakistan Air Force". Pakistani Aviation Forum. 6 January 2007. Retrieved 3 August 2009. 
  3. ^ Hyatt, Ishrat (24 July 2009). "BRAVEHEART". All Voices. Com. Ishrat Hyaat. Retrieved 2009. 
  4. ^ Bravehart

External links

  • Consulate General of Poland in Karachi IM
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