Deadly bet: How to land a plane blindly and kill 70 people

This tragedy occurred on October 20, 1986 when landing at Kuibyshev airport. A monstrous case. Probably, it has no analogues in Soviet, and maybe in world aviation. 

The crew commander Alexander Klyuev argued that he would be able to land the plane blindly, using only instruments. He closed the observation windows of the cabin with curtains and took the plane to land… At the time of the incident, there were 85 passengers on board, including 14 children, and 8 crew members.

Deadly bet: How to land a plane blindly and kill 70 people

The blinds on the co-pilot's windows were not closed, but neither the navigator nor the flight engineer interfered with the actions of the crew commander. An error crept into his calculations, and the plane approached the runway with too high vertical and horizontal speeds.

Deadly bet: How to land a plane blindly and kill 70 people

The plane literally crashed "belly" into the concrete strip. From the strongest (4.8 g) impact on the landing strip, the landing gear gave way. The plane was dragged along the strip about 300 m . When sliding on concrete, the plane began to roll over the right wing, then descended to the ground, lost the right wing plane, turned over and split in two. The right wing completely broke off, and the left folded in half.

When the hull broke into two parts, kerosene gushed out of the fuel tanks onto the red-hot engine turbines. A fire started. Three flight attendants burned alive. An oxygen tank was stored next to their cabin, the nozzle of which was knocked out, and a red-hot jet of oxygen hit them directly. Only fragments of skulls and shin bones remained from the flight attendants.

Deadly bet: How to land a plane blindly and kill 70 people

It is strange that the co-pilot, Evgeny Zhirnov, who saw the unacceptable speed and angle of inclination, did not take any measures to go to the second round. He survived the crash and heroically helped passengers get out of the burning plane. Zhirnov was able to get several people out of the plane. And when he pulled the woman out through the cockpit, he sank to the ground, said that it was difficult for him to breathe, and lost consciousness. Three days later he died in the Berezovskaya medical unit.

Deadly bet: How to land a plane blindly and kill 70 people

Deadly bet: How to land a plane blindly and kill 70 people

Passengers recalled that a man in handcuffs ran out of the plane and, running away from the plane, stopped. It was a recidivist who was being taken from Grozny. His escorts died immediately in the crash, but the criminal did not receive a single scratch. The conditions for escape were ideal, but he did not run away, but surrendered to the police.

Deadly bet: How to land a plane blindly and kill 70 people

Deadly bet: How to land a plane blindly and kill 70 people

That's what the head of the fire testing laboratory, V.V. Frygin, recalled: 

When I dived into the sooty crack of the hull, I immediately saw dead people hanging over my head, strapped in. After all, the plane turned over during the fall, and all the seats with passengers as a result turned upside down and, as it were, on the ceiling. Many of the corpses were completely without clothes, and others - only without shoes. All this was either torn off by a stream of air, or burned up in flames.

I see a girl hanging on the straps and seems to be moving, which means she may still be alive. I picked her up and began to make my way back to the exit. Then I saw another child in a blue jumpsuit lying on the floor — that is, on the ceiling, which at that moment became the floor. There was still air, and, therefore, there was a chance that the baby would survive. I had already bent down to the child when dead people began to fall directly on top of me. Two collapsed right on top of the baby — such healthy men. Apparently, the straps holding them melted, and the bodies one by one fell on the rescuers. I still pulled the children out, but they could not be saved."

70 out of 94 people died in the crash. The brainless captain of the ship, Alexander Klyuev, remained alive (as always happens), he was tried. The trial of Alexander Klyuev took place in Moscow, in the Supreme Court of the RSFSR. It was closed to the press and the public.

The pilot was found guilty of a crime under part 1 of Article 85 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR (violation of traffic safety rules and operation of transport), and sentenced to the maximum term provided for in this article — 15 years in prison. At that time, only the death penalty was above 15 years — execution, there were no life sentences. But after the review of the case, the term was reduced from 15 to 6 years, which Klyuev fully served and was released. 6 years for the lives of 70 people. According to some reports, after his release, he lived in the village of Mekhzavod until 1994, and then left for the Ulyanovsk region.

Deadly bet: How to land a plane blindly and kill 70 people

In Soviet times, such disasters were classified. KGB officers made sure that no one took pictures, but one of the two films V.V. Frygin still managed to hide.

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