Two Belarusian pilots killed in crash at air show in Poland
Two Belarusian Air Force pilots were killed on Sunday when their SU-27 fighter plane crashed during an aerial acrobatics display at an air show in central Poland.
"The two pilots did not manage to catapult to safety and were killed in the crash but there were no other casualties," police spokeswoman Agnieszka Humelusz in Radom, a city about 62 miles south of Warsaw, told Reuters.
"The SU-27 crashed far beyond the spectator area minutes after begining its aerial performance," a witness said. A 15-minute Su-27 display had been scheduled for 1:15 p.m.
Poland's news channels showed the large, heavy plane making three aerial revolutions and then levelling off as if about to land.
It then disappeared from sight beyond a line of trees and exploded. A cloud of black smoke appeared on the horizon where the plane went down.
"The plane crashed about 100 yards from buildings in the village of Naleczyn on the outskirts of Radom," TVN24 said.
The SU-27 was piloted by Colonel Alyaksandr Marfitski, deputy head of the Western Operational and Tactical Command of the Air and Air Defense Force, and Colonel Alyaksandr Zhurawlevich, deputy commander of the 61st Fighter Air Base in Baranavichy, Brest region, according to Vyachaslaw Ramenchyk, spokesman for the Belarusian defense ministry.
The crash is believed to have been caused by a bird sucked into the engine's air intake, but the exact cause will be established by an investigation, Mr. Ramenchyk told BelaPAN. The pilots decided not to eject because they wanted to steer the plane away from the crowd and save people’s lives at the price of their own lives, he said.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka and the defense ministry extended their condolences to the families of the pilots.
Two pilots from Poland's Zelazny Aerial Acrobatics Group were killed at the 2007 Radom air show when their planes collided in midair during a performance.
Three Belarusian warplanes flew to Radom on Thursday for participation in the August 27-31 international biannual air show. Apart from the Su-27 UBM multi-purpose fighter of the 61st Fighter Air Base, the planes included a Su-24M front-line bomber of the 116th Guards Bomber and Reconnaissance Aircraft Base in Ros, Hrodna region, and an Il-76MD cargo aircraft of the 50th Combined Air Base in Machulishchy near Minsk.
Eleven crew members plus maintenance personnel departed for Poland for Belarus’ first participation in the Radom Air Show.
A defense counselor and a consular officer at the Belarusian embassy in Warsaw have already left for the scene of the crash, a source at the embassy told BelaPAN.
A special Belarusian-Polish commission will investigate the accident.