The death of a Greek fighter jet pilot on Thursday whose Mirage 2000-5 crashed into the sea north of the central Aegean island of Skyros after returning from a mission to intercept Turkish jets is a grim reminder of the deadly tally incurred by the Hellenic Air Force in the last few decades.
According to available data, the Air Force has mourned the loss of 125 people in 81 plane crashes that occurred for various reasons in the line of duty in the period from 1990 to 2018.
Fourteen F-4 fighter jets, thirteen Mirage 2000 — like the one that crashed on Thursday — thirteen A-7 Corsair, twelve F-16 fighter jets, six F-1 and two C-130 have been lost over three decades.
Sixty-three out of the 125 dead lost their lives at the crash of an C-130 at Mount Othrys in February 1991 as it flew from Elefsina to Nea Anchialos’ military airport, near Volos.
Only two military aircraft have fallen during dogfights with Turkish fighter jets. The first was in June 1992, when the old Mirage piloted by 1st Lt Nikos Sialmas crashed near the island of Agios Stratis in the northern Aegean, while trying to intercept a pair of Turkish jets.
In May 2006, Captain Kostas Eliakis died near the island of Karpathos when the Turkish F-16 he was pursuing crashed on top of Eliakis’ plane.