October 25

This Day in History

Disaster

Oct 25, 2000:

Russian military plane crashes into mountain

On this day in 2000, a Russian military plane crashes into a mountain in Georgia, killing all 83 people on board. Poor visibility and pilot error caused the horrific crash.

The Ilyushin-18 jet was built in 1968 and was used to transport military personnel. On October 25, a crew of 11 was flying 72 soldiers from Chkalovsky Airport near Moscow to the Batumi Airport in Georgia, in the Caucasus region east of the Black Sea. On the approach to Batumi, at dusk, low clouds and rain severely reduced visibility.

Because of the poor weather, the pilots decided to land from the northeast rather than the usual western approach into Batumi Airport. The new route would take them over Mt. Mtirala, which rises approximately 5,000 feet above sea level. As the Ilyushin-18 descended from 10,000 feet, the pilots made a navigational error, descendeding further than they should have.

Meanwhile, the air-traffic controllers at the airport lost the plane on their radar and therefore were unable to inform the pilots of their error. Several miles from the airport, the plane slammed straight into the side of the mountain. The jet exploded in a massive fireball, killing everyone on board instantly.

This was only the 12th worst of a total of 92 crashes involving an Ilyushin-18 aircraft.

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