Vietnamese disaster: why the killing of 4 best pilots

History 11/01/20 public domainВьетнамская disaster: why the killing of 4 best pilots “Russian knights”

“Russian knights” Russian aerobatic aviation group, one of the most famous in the world. Their uniqueness lies in the fact that the pilots perform aerobatics, not one by one, and in group formation on a combat heavy fighters. These crews are among the most ketannah in Russia, however, even these aces are not insured from emergency in the air. For all . In total since the inception of the group in a plane crash killed six people. The most terrible was the tragedy near the Vietnamese airdrome Cam Ranh Bay – then “Knights” lost 4 colleagues and 3 cars.

Malaysian triumph

In 1995 in Malaysia, held its annual air show LIMA (Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition) is the largest air show, which showcases his technique and skill of pilots from dozens of countries. Signature “diamond” “Knights” (when the five aircraft built by diamond and synchronously performs aerobatics), but still not in sports, and in combat vehicles, are traditionally caused a furore. The pilots flying day and night bathed in the warm waters of the Indian ocean. There were no signs of the tragedy.

Way back home assumed flight on their own. Together with the fighters returned home and military transport aircraft Il-76. On the way, they had several refueling points. One of them was a Vietnamese military base in Cam Ranh Bay, which at that time was operated by the Russian Armed forces.

Inclement weather

Another approach to the airfield the weather deteriorated – formed clouds and fog. On this route the flight Director was Colonel Alexei Arbuzov. On its base was no navigational equipment, including control and landing radar. The situation was complicated by the fact that the relationship with the land was only the first pilot Il-a nneral-major Grebennikova, who in turn then passed the instructions from the earth “the knights”. It is worth noting that Grebennikov before that was piloted by mostly Tu-160 and was not admitted to the international flights of “seventy-six”. But at that time in the country in General and in the Armed forces, in particular, have created such a mess that it did not pay attention.

In the absence of readings from the base landing should be carried out “by eye,” meaning in visual contact with the pilots land, which in this weather is impossible. However, the airport still received permission to land. Then there was the strange events that led to disaster.

bad second

As we have already mentioned above, the Il-76 under the command of Grebennikova only had a relationship with the earth. It so happened that he was the flight leader. Right and left of him were “Drying” the “Knights” – 2 and 3, respectively.

On approaching the airfield Lieutenant Colonel Serhiy Arbuzov instructed to fall to the height (in the terminology of pilots echelon) in the 1500 meters and to sit down with every kilometer. However, Grebennikov asked the fighter to the landing, they came in the same order as were in the link.

When the fog abruptly seemed a mountain, time to manoeuvre the pilots was almost gone. Three fighters – two single and one double crashed into a mountain. Their pilots were killed instantly. The crew of the double “drying” could eject, but in this case, the uncontrollable plane flew into the mud, on Board of which there were about 60 people and the pilots decided to sacrifice himself.


After the remaining aircraft returned to base, was under investigation and the trial took place. Major-General Vladimir Grebennikov was the accused initially pleaded guilty, but later, when he realized that he faces a major prison sentence, began to abandon their original testimony.

According to the records of the court, Grebennikov claimed that he commanded only and led link. Permission to land was issued in violation because the flight Director Arbuzov warned that on the basis of no navigation equipment. However, the wiretap recordings from the black box forced the judges to doubt it.

the recording is audible, as it ignores the Manager of the land. Actually makes fighters go so that those have minimal space to maneuver. Phrases that conditions for landing are not suitable also ignores. In addition, from the recorders is unclear where the missing fragment, which the co-pilot and Navigator – experienced pilots who are familiar with the Il-76, trying to explain to him the risk of the maneuver, however, the dialogue ends with the swearing from the ed.

All these factors prove the guilt of the General and his prigovoril to six years in prison. However, due to the presence of rewards and high rank, immediately in the courtroom, was released under an Amnesty.

Again in the sky

thus ended this tragic story. Dead pilots buried near the Cuban women, on their grave had placed a plaque. A year after surviving “Knights” did not rise to the sky – pilots could not come to terms with the deaths of their comrades, and how easy the culprit of their destruction escaped from retaliation.

Help came from not waiting – they are colleagues and competitors, the British pilots of the aerobatic team, the Red Arrows. They have invited our pilots at an air base in Scampton, and gave permission for training flights. The participation of colleagues gave us confidence and helped again to “stand on the wing.” A year later, at an air show in Gelendzhik in the sky appeared the “diamond” Russkie Vityazi.

Vasily Khodarev

© Russian Seven

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