Α Mirage 2000-5 aircraft of the Hellenic Air Force crashed into the sea, 9 nautical miles to the northeast of Skyros island, as it approached the island’s military airport for landing, after an operation in the Aegean. The pilot of the aircraft, Giorgos Baltadoros, 34, father of two children, was found dead.
The HAF General Staff has already established a committee that will investigate the causes of the accident. The country’s State and political leaders have expressed their condolences on the loss of the pilot.
The Hellenic Armed forces declared three days of national mourning.
According to reports, the jet piloted by 34-year-old Captain Giorgos Baltadoros was one of two Mirages that departed from Skyros shortly after 11 a.m. to intercept a pair of Turkish F-16s that violated Greek air space in the area between the eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos and Chios.
However, when the Mirage pair arrived in the area the Turkish jets had already left and Baltadoros sent out a signal that the F-16s were beyond visual range. On their return to Skyros, both jets were reportedly flying at a low altitude due to poor visibility on account of cloudy weather and the African dust in the atmosphere. An alert was sounded after the pilot of the other Mirage said at 12.15 p.m. that he saw Baltadoros’s jet suddenly “dip,” 9 nautical miles northeast of Skyros.
Sources: ERT, eKathimerini