The Miraculous Rescue Mission of an F16 Pilot

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The General Staff of the Air Force watched as Lieutenant Commander Dimitris Apostolakis, a 29-year-old F-16 Block 52+ aircraft operator participating in a training exercise, sent a distress signal and vanished from the radio.

Apostolakis quickly realized that the fighter's engine had shut down, prompting him to prepare for an emergency exit. Just in time, he deployed his ejection seat and safely landed.

For an hour and a half, the young Sergeant Major braved the open sea near Psathoura island in Halkidiki until a Super Puma helicopter located and rescued him. He was eventually transported to Saketa camp, where an ambulance awaited to transfer him to the 251 General Air Hospital.

Thankfully, the 29-year-old captain is in good health. According to his father, his first words upon hearing from him were, "I'm fine, I'm fine. You know our communication wasn't the best. But now, I don't have a clear picture, so I'm headed to Athens to see my child," his father shared with the Star Tv.

According to the report, 29-year-old Panagiotis Apostolakis is originally from Polyneri Trikala, with his relatives, including his paternal grandmother, residing in Trikala.

The Miraculous Rescue Mission of an F16 Pilot 1

Expressing his gratitude that no parent should have to experience such a situation, he revealed, "Do you know the parable of Lazarus? I pray that no child's parents have to go through this. May their journeys always end safely, my friend."

It should be noted that the F-16 took off from the 337th squadron of the 110th Fighter Wing in Larissa and was flying in formation with four other fighter aircraft, all of whom witnessed the crash.

In a subsequent statement, the Air Force provided an update: "The pilot of the F-16 Block 52+ aircraft from the 337th Squadron of the 110th Fighter Wing, which crashed in the Psathouras maritime area on Wednesday, March 20, 2024, was successfully rescued at 15:02 by a Super Puma helicopter from the 130th Fighter Wing. The pilot was then transferred to the 251st Air Force General Hospital."

The search and rescue operation involved multiple assets, including a Super Puma helicopter from the 130th Battle Squadron, a Navy S-70 helicopter, a CL-415 from the 113AM, and the "Aegean" Frigate. Additionally, a C-130 was on standby.

Minister of National Defense, Nikos Dendias, expressed his well-wishes for the pilot's swift recovery in a post on (X) and extended his congratulations to all those involved in the successful rescue operation.

Evangelos Apostolakis, the head of the National Defense Department of SYRIZA, echoed the need to investigate the causes behind the F-16 crash. He emphasized the importance of providing clear answers to prevent similar incidents and maintain the integrity of the Armed Forces and its devoted personnel.


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