March 23, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Investigation closed: co-pilot found dead

The General Staff of Greece made an official statement: “The search for the body of the squadron commander Statis Tsitlakidiscommander of an F-4 Phantom II of the 338th Squadron, 117th Fighter Wing, which crashed at sea south of Andravida Airport, terminated, body found.”

“The collection and analysis of the remains found confirmed the death of the pilot,” the ΓΕΕΘΑ said in a statement. The General Aviation Headquarters announces that today, Wednesday, February 1, 2023, search and rescue operations to locate F-4E Phantom II pilot Sminagos (I) Efstathios Tsitlakides, 31, after the plane crash on January 30, have been completed. Body found 25 nautical miles south of Andravida airport.

The family of the missing squadron commander Statis Tsitlakidis, who was the captain of the fatal Phantom, was visited by the head of the ΓΕΕΘΑ Konstantinos Floros with the chief of the Air Force General Staff, Vice Admiral Themistocles Burolias. Recall that yesterday afternoon, two representatives of the military went to Arcadia, to the family home of the first pilot, Lieutenant Marios-Mikhail Turutsik, to express sympathy for the death of the hero.

“He was preparing to start a family”

“This is a very difficult day for his family and for us… We are in mourning, along with all of Greece and the world community. Statis was a wonderful son. Excellent student, always smiling and good-natured. His dream was to become a pilot, this is exactly what he wanted to do – always be on top,” said the head of the local community “Granite” (πρόεδρος της κοινότητας Γρανίτη) Charalambos Paisidis.

“Everyone would like to have a child like Stathis to be proud of. His choice was to become a pilot. He was an excellent student, he could go to any school he wanted, but he wanted to be a pilot. He was going to start a family, but, unfortunately, he did not have time, ”said a family friend. For their part, two family friends spoke of him as one of the best guys in the entire municipality and did not hide their longing for their loved one, unable to believe what had happened and until the last minute hoping that he would still be found alive.

“Athenian News”: a chronicle of the accident F-4 Phantom

Two F-4 Phantom took off on Monday 30 January at 10:15. Pilots of the fatal “Phantom” worked out a training scenario, performing a “small cruising” flight at an altitude of 100 meters, paired with a second aircraft of the same type.

F-4 Phantom II tail number 507 (considered one of the oldest aircraft in service with the Greek Navy) crashed in the Gulf of Kyparissia under unclear circumstances, only 8 nautical miles from the coast and 25 from the Andravida airbase. “When you fly low at high speeds and maneuver with turns and high g-forces, at any moment there is a possibility of an accident, or there may be other factors,” defense analyst Konstantinos Yatridis told the state channel.

The aircraft is over 50 years old…

The date of receipt of a specific aircraft is not specified, according to ERT, but according to the ilialive website, it was one of the first six received by the Greek Air Force in 1974, and belonged to the 338th squadron of the 117th Andravida Fighter Wing. According to the same data, the aircraft under tail number 506 was modernized in 2000…

The Hellenic Air Force has two squadrons that are fully equipped with F-4E Phantom II aircraft. They have been used since 1974 as all-weather fighter-bombers. In 1997-2005, 36 aircraft of this model were upgraded. Then they received the new designation F-4E AUP and remained in service with the Greek Air Force until at least 2020.

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