Six unidentified helicopters have been reported flying over Bursa, leaving security forces confused and citizens concerned about a repeat incident following last Friday’s abortive coup d’état.

Bursa, Turkey’s fourth-most populated city, was left mostly unaffected by the military uprising which focused on Ankara and Istanbul. Helicopter and drone flights are currently forbidden throughout the country.


By some accounts, the helicopters patrolled skies over the periphery of Bursa for 40 minutes before heading off in the direction of Yalova, departing with their lights dimmed or turned off completely.

Helicopter watch

Over a dozen helicopters, as well as tanks and even one or more navy frigates are said to still be missing following the coup attempt, leaving many concerned that another attempt to take over the state may be in the works.

Similar helicopter sightings were previously made in Istanbul on Monday night although there has been no clear explanation as to whether the aircraft are loyal to the incumbent government or coup instigators.

Some emerging theories about the unidentified aircraft include:

  • Aerial firefighting helicopters deployed to put out a residential fire in the area
  • Unmanned police surveillance drones
  • Government secret service aircraft ferrying officials to and from bunkers
  • Diplomatic helicopters carrying foreign ambassadors with tacit permission to fly
  • Airmen implicated in Friday’s coup who might be attempting to negotiate favourable terms for surrender – as Turkey seeks to implement the death penalty
  • Remaining pockets of pro-coup military forces plotting a second uprising

President Erdogan has called on citizens to fill the streets every night since the failed plot unravelled, with the crowds holding “democracy watch” events lasting into the early hours each morning.

While hundreds lost their lives in violence on Friday night, many hundreds of thousands more were left terrified by supersonic jet fighters flying low and generating deafening blast waves – apparently as a form of psychological warfare – over Istanbul and Ankara, leaving a legacy of smashed windows throughout major population centres.

Ordinary citizens have been credited with bringing the coup to halt after the president called on them to lend a hand – through several channels including Twitter, announcements from mosques and even a FaceTime video call relayed by TV channel CNN Turk.