C-130 aircraft crash | “Black” day for the HAF on Mount Othrys in 1991
Defence Redefined
Published on 05/02/2022 at 09:33

On February 5, 1991, the crash of a C-130 aircraft of the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) wrote a “black page” in the history of the Hellenic Armed Forces, which ‘flooded’ an entire country with silence and sorrow.

The Deputy Minister of Defence, Mr. Nikolaos Hardalias, attended on Saturday, February 5, 2022, as a representative of the Greek Government, the event of remembrance and honor, organized by the Municipality of Piraeus, for the sixty-three fallen Officers, Non Commissioned Officers and Aircraftmen on board of the C-130 military transport aircraft, which crashed on Mount Othrys, on February 5, 1991.

During the ceremony, which took place in the “C – 130 Aviator and Fallen Heroes” Square in Piraeus, a Commemorative Prayer was performed, while subsequently, the Deputy Minister laid a wreath.

The tragedy background

It was Tuesday, February 5, 1991, when a HAF C-130 transport aircraft took off from Elefsina Airport bound for Nea Anchialos. Twenty minutes after take-off, the aircraft was off-radar.

After three days of searching, on the morning of Friday, February 8, the commander of a military helicopter that participated in the search mission identified the wreckage of the C-130 at the Tsatali peak of Mount Othrys, at an altitude of 1,520m. None of the 63 Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, and Aircraftmen survived the crash. The trial started after three years and nine months, on November 4, 1994, at the Athens Air Force Court.

The fateful US-type HAF aircraft C-130, with serial number 748, had taken off just before noon from the airport of Elefsina, as part of an ordered mission related to our country’s involvement in the events in the Persian Gulf.

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Its destination, according to information released by the Ministry of Defence, was Crete, but it first had to collect personnel from the 111 Airbase (Anchialos) and transport it to the 115 Airbase (Chania) and to Tympaki. The plane was about 38 kilometers from Anchialos, when it suddenly went off-radar without any problem being previously reported by its pilot, Flight Lieutenant D. Bina.

According to the official documents submitted to the military courts, its last contact with the control tower of the 111 Air Base was at 12.55 noon while its landing process had begun due to low clouds and bad weather prevailing in the area. Then, the aircraft simply disappeared into thin air…

Eight F-16s, two C-130s, two CL-215 firefighters, two Chinook helicopters, Navy helicopters, and naval cooperation aircraft began searching the area where the aircraft was lost. At the same time, large forces of special forces and marines began to scour the possible points of its fall, looking mainly above the imaginary line of the course that it should have followed.

But despite the huge mobilization, the wreckage of the C-130 was located after four days on the slope “Tsatali” of Mount Othrys, about 60 kilometers away from the point where it should normally be and at the wrong angle of 63 degrees. The cause of the fatal plane crash has never been known.

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