A Pilot’s deadly bet that left 70 people dead

by Aadarsh Jain

A Pilot’s deadly bet that left 70 people dead

May 25, 2021

Quite a few times has pilot error been the prime cause of a deadly plane crash. Russian Aeroflot Flight 6502 was one such example, which ended in a fiery crash landing in Soviet Russia, killing 70 people. The KGB tightly monitored the media at the time, and photographs of the accident were kept out of the public eye.

The Blind Landing

It was supposed to be a daily domestic flight for 87 passengers and 7 crew members from Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg) to Grozny, with a stopover in Kuybyshev (known as Samara today). People carrying personal belongings boarded the plane in Sverdlovsk, and some were accompanied by children. The first portion of the journey was uneventful. Up until the terrible landing in Kuybyshev, the take-off and time in the air were perfect. However, before the city could be seen on the horizon, the plane’s captain had a wild idea.

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The Deadly bet

Gennadiy Zhirnov, Alexander Klyuev’s co-pilot, had a bet with him. He said he could land the plane blind, depending solely on the flight instruments and not seeing the ground. The co-decision pilot’s to take the bet remains unclear; he could only win the bet if he died, but it could be justified by the captain’s power and control over the crew.

Klyuev used blinders to shield his eyes from inside the cabin as he approached the landing strip and began the dangerous descent. And after the surface alert and alert device had gone off, the co-pilot and the rest of the crew did not object to the captain’s outrageously reckless behaviour. 

The plane’s landing gear collided with the deck, causing it to roll over and break into two halves. Fuel gushed from the tanks over the blazing engines, and the charred remains of the plane burst into flames, trapping the passengers inside.

The Aftermath Of The Bet

Firefighters from the airport who were on service arrived at the scene in record time. They had to battle the fire and smoke while searching for survivors in the charred wreckage and corpses.

“I saw the dead bodies dangling over my head, wrapped in seat belts, as I jumped into the smoke-blackened hull gap. Over all, during the crash, the plane flipped over, and all of the passengers’ seats were turned upside down and hung from the ceiling. Many of the bodies were found fully nude, although some lacked just shoes. Much of this was either ripped out by the current of air or consumed by the flames,” a firefighter described the horrific encounter.

As the firefighters searched the plane turned upside down for survivors, dead bodies started to fail on them. Despite the courageous actions of the firefighters, they were only able to rescue a few passengers, and the majority of them died afterwards.

Fortunately, the 14 children on board made it out alive.

Since trying to rescue some of the passengers, the first officer died on the scene, but the captain survived.

The captain was given a term of up to 20 years in jail, but it was reduced to 5 years due to mental health issues.


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