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Bid to name street in Islamabad after Polish general
Polish Radio 09.02.2022 13:45
The Pakistani government wants the capital Islamabad to name one of its streets after 20th-century Polish air force general Władysław Turowicz, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency has reported. Turowicz’s name would be given to one of the main streets in the city, according to the news agency. Gen. Turowicz is remembered as one of the co-founders of the South Asian country’s air force. In the 1960s, he also helped create Pakistan’s space programme.
The proposal to name a street after Turowicz was put forward by the Pakistani foreign ministry. Officials sent a formal letter to the local authorities in Islamabad, who were expected to consider the request at their next meeting, the IAR news agency reported. It would be a fitting tribute to the Polish general, and a reflection of good relations between the two countries, Pakistani government officials were quoted as saying.
Man who helped create Pakistan's air force
Turowicz is considered to be one of the chief architects behind the creation of Pakistan’s air force. A former engineer with the British Royal Air Force, he was among 30 Polish instructors invited by Pakistan in 1948 to train local pilots and army ground staff. His wife Zofia was also among the Polish contingent, the IAR news agency reported.
In the 1960s, Turowicz was reassigned to Pakistan’s space agency and became its head in 1967, helping modernise the country’s satellites. He was also instrumental in developing short- and medium-range ballistic missiles for the Pakistani army, according to officials. Turowicz died in a car crash on January 8, 1980 and was buried in the country’s largest city, Karachi.
On August 14, 2004, the Museum of the Pakistani Air Force unveiled a monument to honour the Polish general on Pakistan's Independence Day, IAR reported.
Turowicz was born to an aristocratic family in the village of Wadziejewsko in Siberia (Russia) in 1908, where he graduated from high school. The Polish name of the village may suggest it was inhabited by Poles who were exiled or imprisoned by the Tsar, as it was unusual for Polish aristocrats to live in Siberia for non-political reasons. 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, the Warsaw University of Technology (WTU) in 1930, majoring in aeronautical engineering; upon graduation, he received his PhD with honours in 1936.
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, to name a few. It was here at the Aero Club that Turowicz met his future wife, Zofia Turowicz with whom he would have 4 children. In addition, he completed an MSc in astrodynamics in 1937 from the same institution. 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 1939 as a reservist Polish pilot.
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 Communist Poland due to the official negative attitude towards those who had served with the Western Allies during the war.
Career with the Pakistan Air Force
As the political situation in Poland got worse, many Polish Air Force officers began to move to the United States, Australia, Norway and Canada. Turowicz and 45 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 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 to 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.
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 Soviet Union'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.
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.