Efstathios Tsitlakidis: Second Pilot of fallen F-4 Jet confirmed dead

Phantom F-4 Efstathios Tsitlakidis

Efstathios Tsitlakidis, the second pilot of the F-4 plane that crashed on Monday, was tragically announced dead by Greek military authorities.

A statement from the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) said that the analysis of evidence from the crash site confirmed that Captain Efstathios Tsitlakidis died in the accident.

Co-pilot Marios Touroutsikas, 29, was confirmed dead after his body was recovered from the aircraft’s wreckage in the Ionian Sea on Monday.

With this latest announcement, the tragedy surrounding the fall of the fatal training aircraft ended in the worst possible way as Tsitlakidis' family had still been hoping for a miracle.

The search and rescue operations to locate him, that had started on Monday, ended today with the findings that confirmed his death. The operation to locate the second pilot was supported by three helicopters, boats, the Air Force's special forces, and an underwater drone capable of searching at a depth of up to 100 metres.

Pilot issued distress signal before the jet crashed off western Greece

The airmen had reportedly issued a distress signal and were in the process of abandoning the aircraft when it went down.

National Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos announced a three-day period of mourning in the country’s armed forces on Monday.

The last time an F-4 Phantom crashed in Greece was on Mount Parnassus on June 15, 2004. Both pilots lost their lives. Investigations revealed that the aircraft crashed due to an extreme maneuver it made as part of an exercise.

The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom is an American tandem two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor and fighter-bomber originally developed by McDonnell Aircraft for the United States Navy.

Proving highly adaptable, it entered service with the Navy in 1961 before it was adopted by the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force, and by the mid-1960s it had become a major part of their air arms.

Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981 with a total of 5,195 aircraft built, making it the most-produced American supersonic military aircraft in history, and cementing its position as an iconic combat aircraft of the Cold War.

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