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Władysław Józef Marian Turowicz
Wladyslaw Turowicz's photo at Monument of General Władysław Turowicz in Karachi
Wladyslaw Turowicz's photo at Monument of General Władysław Turowicz in Karachi
Born (1908-04-23)April 23, 1908
Zudyra, Siberia, Russia[1]
Died January 8, 1980(1980-01-08) (aged 71)
Karachi, Pakistan
Residence Karachi, Pakistan
Nationality Poland
Ethnicity Polish
Citizenship Pakistan (1956 - 1980)
Alma mater Warsaw Polytechnic, Poland
Known for Pakistan's Space Program
Pakistan Air Force pioneer
Missile and Rocket Technology
Pakistan's atomic program
Rehbar Rocket Program
Kahuta Project
Religion Christianity-Protestant

Air Commodore Władysław Józef Marian Turowicz (April 23, 1908 – November 8, 1980), SP (MI), SK (MI), TP (MI), SQA [MI], SI [MI], usually referred to as Air Cdre. W. J. M. Turowicz, was a prominent and noted Polish-Pakistani military scientist and an aeronautical engineer. He is considered as one of the chief architects of the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan's space program. Turowicz, an eminent rocket scientist and an aeronautical engineer, was the leading and central figure in Pakistan's drive to develop high-tech rocket and missile technology of its own.

Turowicz was the administrator of Pakistan's Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) from 1967 to 1970, and towards the end of his career, he was appointed to the post of Air Marshal of the Pakistan Air Force. He was one of thirty high ranking Polish pilots who served in Pakistan Air Force during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, and is considered one of the pioneers of Pakistan's space program, playing a central role in Pakistan's aviation and aerospace industry.

Turowicz made significant contributions to Pakistan's missile/rocket program as a chief aeronautical engineer and has recently been referred to as the "Rocket-Missile Man of Pakistan" by some of the prominent defense analysts for his work towards the development of ballistic missile and space rocket technology. 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 honors 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 Master 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, organizing, 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.

Moving to Pakistan[]

As the political situation in Poland got worse, many Polish Air Force commanders began to move to United States, Australia, Norway and Canada. Turowicz and his commanders were asked to move to Pakistan by the Government of Pakistan. Turowicz, together with a group of thirty Polish officers, scientists, engineers, and aviators arrived in Karachi by the end of 1948. They were received a warm welcome from the people of Pakistan. His task was to train Pakistan Air Force's fighter pilots. He, along with the Polish Air Force General, signed a three-year agreement with Pakistan.

Career with Pakistan Air Force[]

The three-year contract with Pakistan Air Force was to transform Pakistan Air Force into permanent and effective Air Force of the region. Turowicz set up technical institutes in Karachi. He taught and revitalized 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. However, they were transferred and accommodated in Peshawar.

In 1952, Turowicz, along with several Polish fighters, were promoted in the rank of Wing Commander. He was also promoted to the rank Lieutenant Commander when he became an Air Force Commander of Pakistan Air Force's Chaklala Airbase. In 1959, Turowicz was promoted in the rank of Group Captain. In 1960, he, along with other Polish Air Force general, became an Air Commodore and a Deputy Chief of Air Staff, in charge of Pakistan Air Force Training Department.

Air Cdre. Władysław Józef Marian Turowicz
Nickname Air Cdre. Wlady
Born 1908
Died 1980 (aged 71–72)
Allegiance  Pakistan

Service/branch Air Force Ensign of Pakistan.svg Pakistan Air Force (1947–1980)
Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force (1930–1947)
PL air force flag IIIRP.svg Polish Air Force (1927–1930)
Years of service 1927–1980
Rank US-O9 insignia.svg Air Marshal (Lieutenant General)
Commands held Central Air Command
Air Defence Command
Northern Air Command
Battles/wars World War II
Indo-Pakistani War of 1947
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Awards Sitara-e-Pakistan [MI] (1965)
Other work administrator and chief scientist at SUPARCO

Indo-Pakistani War of 1965[]

During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Turowicz flew the American-built F-86 Sabre and defended Lahore from the Indian Air Force. He, along with other Polish pilots, rose to prominence and fame as they helped in successfully defending Lahore and Pakistan. After the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Turowicz, along with several other Polish pilots, were considered as heroes in Pakistan. Turowicz, Squadron Leader Anotnii Zbigniew Jedryszek, and other Polish pilots were awarded the Sitara-e-Pakistan. Honorary Pakistani citizenship was also bestowed upon Turowicz, as well as, some other Polish pilots by the President of Pakistan, Ayub Khan, in a grand public ceremony held in Islamabad.

Pakistan's Space Program[]

Turowicz was actively and heavily involved in Pakistan's space program. According to his close sources, Turowicz was passionate and fascinated with the Russian and American space program. He showed deep interests in the emerging ICBM technology that was being built by the Soviet Union. 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 expressed his thoughts to I. H. Usmani that one day Pakistan will be able to possess high-tech satellites and high-powered rocket technology as a part of Pakistan's peaceful purpose space program. He also expressed that in few decades Pakistan will launch its first satellite. His prediction came true, when 10 years after the death of Air. Mar. Gen. Władysław Turowicz, Pakistan launched its first indigenously developed experimental digital communication satellite from Xichang Satellite Launch Center, People's Republic of China aboard a Long March 2E. His vision did come true but unfortunately, he wasn't there to see it.

He along with Dr. Salam traveled through to the United States to reach a space-cooperation agreement. He successfully convinced the United States Government to invest and train Pakistan's scientists in the field of rocket technology. He is widely credited with setting up the rocket fuel factories and rocket technology laboratories and research institutes in Pakistan. He was one of the chief designers and the main architect of design and construction of Sonmiani Satellite Launch Centre.

SUPARCO administrator[]

Turowicz was appointed head of SUPARCO in 1967 by the Government of Pakistan. As the administrator, he revitalized and initiated the space program as quickly as possible. He was responsible for Pakistan's weather satellite program, Rehbar-II, which was indigenously designed by him. Rehbar-II, a geo-stationary and small weather satellite was launched from the Flight Test Range (Sonmiani) under his guidance. The successful launch carried a payload of 80 pounds of sodium, and it streaked up about 130 km into the atmosphere.[4]

After his tenure as administrator was completed, Turowicz was appointed as Pakistan Air Force's Air Marshal. However, the Government of Pakistan, on the request of Dr. Salam, initiated him with the Pakistan's space program where he was appointed head of SUPARCO's Aeronautical Engineering Division. As a noted aeronautical engineer, Air. Mar. 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.[4]

Rehbar Sounding Rocket Program[]

Turowicz, as an aeronautical engineer, was chosen by Dr. Abdus Salam to lead Pakistan in rocket and space technology. The Rehbar Program was entirely designed and developed by him. He was also in charge of the team of aerospace scientists and engineers in the Rehbar Sounding Rocket Project.

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 1970s. He also set up the educational engineering institute at the SUPARCO.

He and his students published science papers and articles extensively in the field of long-range rocket system and technology. He has provided a major contribution to the Pakistan's space program and modernization of Pakistan's missiles capabilities. In recognition of his honest and effective effort, he was conferred with high-civilian/military award Tamgha-i-Khidmat (Military) and Sitara-i-Pakistan in 1967 in a grand public ceremony.

Involvement in Nuclear weapons programme[]

Turowicz was appointed administrator of SUPARCO in 1967 as he was given autonomous control of the scientific organization. In 1972, then-Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, initiated the nuclear weapon program, starting the Project-706. Turowicz was given responsibility to develop a sophisticated missile program to meet Nuclear weapons delivery requirements. He himself initiated with the programme, and during the meeting with PAEC and SUPARCO. He proposed to start of the ingenious missile program. In 1970, Turowicz began to established the administrative offices and directorates to led the development of rockets and missile technology. In 1977, he founded the Hatf Missile Program, a program under his guidance, become a leading source of Pakistan's rocket and missile program in 1980s. However, having difficulties to acquire the missile technology, Turowicz sat up the solid fuel booster rocket's facility near Lahore to produce the local production of materials. As the SUPARCO chairman, Turowicz used his influence to bring the space technology to Pakistan in a short time. By the 1970s, SUPARCO, under his direction, had developed the ability to fabricate rocket motors from raw materials at solid and liquid propellant manufacturing plants.

In 1978, he quickly set up the missile and rocket facility near Lahore. He was responsible for the development of electronic delivery system and inertial turbine engines in the rocket. He was a noted scientist and pioneer of launching the research institution to develop and designed Pakistan's first satellite program in 1970s. He also received permission from the Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to conduct research and develop the Pakistan's first communication satellite. The response was positive but due to lack of funds, the programme did not launch until 1987. Due to his efforts, Pakistan's SUPARCO successfully completed the work on the Hatf Program and tested publicly from Sonmiani Satellite Launch Center in 1989.


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. Many officers, both serving and retired, remember her with fondness. Two of his daughters married Pakistanis while the third daughter married a Bangladeshi. In 1955, a son was born in Karachi. His grandchildren were a source of great joy. 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.[5]


A documentary film on the life and scientific work of Air Com. Władysław Turowicz has been completed, 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 have contributed in building the PAF and SUPARCO soon after independence. The documentary film was released on October 25, 2008.[6][7]

"This documentary will preserve and pass on to future generations the pages of our common history and tell them about our air force officers’ cooperation and the generosity and hospitality of Pakistani people,” said Ireneusz Makles, the Consul General of Poland in Karachi. The consul general said that he believes that the documentary would act to encourage the contemporary activities of the two countries and their future generations. “This is an example of how the two countries can work together to serve our nations” remarked Makles and wished to enhance the Polish-Pakistani cooperation through such efforts.[8]

Death and legacy[]

Air. Com. Turowicz was involved in a car accident on January 8, 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 honors. 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 commemorative letter to his family, stating that Turowicz was not only an Air Force General, but also a scientist, and had served in the country's strategic program.

Honours and recognitions[]

In 2005, PAF Museum, Karachi, placed a memorial plaque in the honor of Air. Com. Gen 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.

He underlined that this ceremony marks the friendly and historical relations between the Polish Air Force officer and Pakistan Air Force officers. Colonel Piotr Lukasiewcz, Defence Attache of Polish Embassy in Islamabad, read and handed over a special message from Chief Commanding Officer of Polish Air Force Stanislaw Targosz to Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman.

Honorary monument[]

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


  • Sitara-e-Pakistan [Military] (1965)
  • Tamgha-i-Pakistan [Military] (1967)
  • Sitara-i-Khidmat [Military] (1967)
  • Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam [Military] (1971)
  • Sitara-e-Imtiaz [Military] (1972)
  • Abdus Salam Award in Aeronautical Engineering (1978)
  • ICTP Award in Space Physics (1979)

See also[]


External links[]

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