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Greek F-16C crashes during night training

December 5, 2007 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A Greek F-16C block 52+ from 337 Mira crashed during a night training exercise. Unfortunately the pilot did not survive.

HAF F-16D block 52 #619 from 337 Mira is parked on the tarmac with opened canopy on October 20th, 2006. [Photo by Patchman]

The jet (#99-1516), which participated in a nightly exercise in the Sporades archipelago with three other F-16s, was lost by radars around 19.41h local time.

Three Super Puma helicopters scrambled to the the last known area, as well as a C-130, a frigate and some other vessels.

The jet has been found near Alonissos, an island in the Aegean sea. Unfortunately the pilot, Flt. Lt. Athanasios Batsaras, 35 years, failed to eject. He was pulled out off international waters by a Turkish frigate which responded to the emergency call.

The F-16s of the 337 Mira (Squadron), part of the 110 Combat Wing, are based at Larissa Air Force Base. They had taken off at 19.05h for the exercise.

The cause of this fatal crash is still unknown but it is most likely to be attributed to spatial disorientation, more commonly known as pilots' vertigo. The sky was clear and the pilot, who had more than 1,500 flight hours, did not report any mechanical failures. The block 52+ jet had 442 flight hours.