LOT Polish Airlines Flight 165
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A LOT Antonov An-24, similar to the crashed aircraft
|Date||2 April 1969|
|Summary||Bad weather and CFIT|
|Site||Near Zawoja, Poland
|Aircraft type||Antonov An-24W|
|Operator||LOT Polish Airlines|
|Destination||Cracow Balice airport|
LOT Polish Airlines Flight LO 165, operated by an Antonov An-24 aircraft, registration SP-LTF, en route from Warsaw to Cracow Balice airport crashed during a snowstorm on the northern slope of Polica near Zawoja in southern Poland on 2 April 1969 at 16:08 local time (UTC+1), killing all 53 people (47 passengers and 6 crew) on board. There were three Americans and one London resident among the passengers, all others being Polish citizens.
The aircraft hit the mountain at an altitude of 1,200 metres (3,900 ft).
The official accident report, published in 1970, blamed the pilot for getting lost. No reasons were given why the aircraft, just before the crash, was flying at such a low altitude some 50 kilometres (31 mi) past its intended destination.
Information given below comes from two newspaper articles published in 1994, with a summary written by a third party available on-line. The journalist wrote that even 25 years after the accident, most of the documentation remained classified, so his main sources were interviews with participants in the rescue action and some members of the accident investigation commission who asked for anonymity.
The aircraft took off at 15:20 local time for a 55-minute flight to Cracow's Balice airport. The captain was Czesław Doliński (with 20 years of flying in PLL LOT and more than two million kilometres of experience).
At 15.49, the first officer received a routine instruction: after passing Jędrzejów, less than 80 km north of the destination, descend to 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) and get in touch with the Balice control tower (VOR in Jędrzejów is a border point of Warsaw/Kraków ATC centre). At that time, a military radar registered the aircraft at an altitude of 4,000 metres (13,000 ft). The pilots informed Okęcie and Balice about time, when the plane passed Jędrzejów VOR, but given three circumscription: 15.52, 15.55 for Okęcie and 15.49 for Balice.[clarification needed] The pilots informed Balice also about the time they passed the next VOR – 15.53. Shortly before 16:00, the captain (who had taken over the controls in the meantime) called Balice, gave his altitude as 3,700 metres (12,100 ft), got the local weather report and was instructed to descend to 1,200 metres (3,900 ft). At 16:01, the aircraft was at 2,400 metres (7,900 ft) and descending. In the next eight minutes, a series of radio exchanges took place between the aircraft and the Balice radar operator, with the captain repeatedly asking for the fix and reporting problems with the beacon signal, and the operator asking for the aircraft's position and altitude to help him find the aircraft on the radar screen. At 16:05, the aircraft was near Maków Podhalański, some 50 km past the destination, at 1,200 metres (3,900 ft). The last message was, "Left turn to further..." – at 16:08.17. Seconds after that, radio contact was lost.
For today, the official death toll of 53 killed is controversial. LOT manifest included 53 passengers and 5 crew members, but two days after the crash Polish press agencies published (based on LOT's information) 46 surnames (part of them without an address or name).
- List of Poland disasters by death toll
- LOT Polish Airlines Flight 007
- LOT Polish Airlines Flight 5055
- LOT Polish Airlines Flight 703
- Pałosz, Jerzy (10 June 1994), "Tragedia pod Zawoją (Tragedy near Zawoja)", Gazeta Krakowska, pp. 6–7
- Pałosz, Jerzy (11 June 1994), "Tragedia pod Zawoją (2) (Tragedy near Zawoja (2))", Gazeta Krakowska, p. 3
- "Aviation tragedy on Polica". Retrieved 1 April 2008.A summary of the Gazeta Krakowska articles, includes photographs from the crash site (Polish)