On August 9, 1978, 39 years ago, the biggest air accident in Greece and perhaps in the world was avoided. The human factor played a key role in the development of the events of that day.
A B-747 Jumbo Jet of the Olympic Airways with 418 passengers and crew takes off from Elliniko airport of Athens to New York City. The wheels have not got off the ground yet when No3 engine ignites!
In the following short video you will see how within 93 seconds one can overcome himself and beat the odds and you will hear about the pilots’ amazing strength to dedicate what were by all means the last seconds of their lives, to the sole purpose of flying and crashing their airplane to the closest mountain just above the city in order to minimize the loss in human lives on the ground.
The aircraft was on an absolute horizontal flight at only 57 meters above the ground and with just 167 mph of speed it literally threw down TV antennas from houses below!
The first officer and the co-pilot coordinated perfectly with each other and in those first critical minutes they made all the right decisions saving thousands of the people of Athens.
Boeing, the company that produces the 747 Jumbo Jets, based on the data collected from the data flight recorders when they investigated the incident, still considers the airplane a total loss, as in every simulated recreation of the flight, it crashed.
How much do you have to deviate from the rules, procedures and regulations to achieve the miracle avoiding the destruction?
All of the above was not accidental. The company’s philosophy played a role in every important role. Olympic Airways having as its first objective Flight Safety, it invested millions in pilot and ground crew training.
For the story the pilots were S. Migadis and co-pilot was K. Fikardos.