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The Worst Russian Military Aircraft Crash : 1981 Crash at Pushkin

The Worst Russian Military Aircraft Crash : 1981 Crash at Pushkin

The Worst Russian Military Aircraft Crash : 1981 Crash at Pushkin The 1981 crash at Pushkin was a disastrous event for the Soviet Union, in which they lost 28 high-ranking Soviet military personnel.

Pushkin airport was located near to the city of Leningrad, which is now St. Petersburg in present day Northern Russia.

On February 7th of 1981, a conference about the readiness of Soviet military forces had finally wrapped up and a large group of high ranking personnel were to fly the same day to the Soviet Union’s Pacific Fleet headquarters in Vladivostok. They intended to make the trip in a Soviet made Tupolev Tu-104 jet liner.

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However, moments after taking off from the icy runway the jet banked severely and crashed.

The crash and resulting fiery inferno killed everyone on board except for one, who later died on his way to the hospital due to his severe injuries.

28 admirals and generals were onboard the doomed flight, including Admiral Emil Spiridonov who was the commander of the entirety of the Soviet Union’s Pacific fleet.

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A revered plane in her prime. Horribly misused during this tragedy.

Shortly after the crash, the Soviets studied every possible factor. In an attempt to figure out what caused the aircraft carrying such important personnel to crash.

Although there were suspicions of enemy involvement and internal sabotage. Eventually these two possibilities were ruled out in favor of aircraft reliability and human error. One particular admiral, admiral Rudolf Golosov was supposed to have taken the doomed flight to Vladivostok but did not ever board the plane.

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However, it was later revealed that he had been driving up North to see his daughter, after receiving the permission of the now late Admiral Emil Spiridonov to do so.

The Tupolev Tu-104 jet liner was also a notoriously unreliable aircraft.

Moreover, the Soviets did rush her into service, with its first flight in 1955. However, by the time of the crash at Pushkin, the specific jet liner had already served 14 years.

Eventually, the cause of the crash was determined to be due to an improperly loaded aircraft. The pilot of the plane, Lieutenant Colonel Anatoly Inyushin reported that his plane was overpacked. Furthermore, Inyushin worried that the weight would make it hard for take off on his journey to Vladivostok. But, of course, this complaint was ignored.

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Many of the generals and admirals had done a fair amount of shopping. Leningrad at the time was a better , causing there to be an abnormal amount of cargo in the Tu-104.

Warnings from the pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Anatoly Inyushin and copilots were dismissed and the overloading of the aircraft continued. Additionally, since the plane was loaded in such chaos. As a result, much of the weight was distributed unevenly. Causing the rear of the aircraft to become abnormally heavy. Among the poorly loaded cargo were two rolls of printing paper, each weighing 500 kilograms.

Memorial in the Serafimovskoe CemeterySt Petersburg to those who died in the 1981 crash

During take off, these two massive rolls of paper rolled to the back of the cargo bay.

Causing the aircraft to tip upwards prematurely and forcing the aircraft into a stall. At that point, there was nothing that could be done by the pilots to save the airplane.

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The aftermath of the disaster sparked chaos among the higher ranks of the Soviet Union. Now missing a large majority of their command in the Pacific fleet. There was a massive scramble to find suitable replacements. In honor of those that died in the crash, a memorial was built in Leningrad.

CSA Tu-104A OK-LDC ARN May 1971.png
A CSA Tu-104 Similar to the one in the accident  – Ceskoslovenske Aerolinie Tupolev TU-104A at Arlanda Airport (ARN / ESSA)

The Worst Russian Military Aircraft Crash : 1981 Crash at Pushkin Written by Tony Cao

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