MOSCOW, September 24 (RIA Novosti) – Pilot error caused the crash of the Antonov An-2 biplane that came down in Russia’s Ural Mountains last June but was uncovered only in May this year, Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee said Tuesday.
The Moscow-based committee said in a conclusive report that the pilot violated flight safety rules by flying at a very low altitude in a densely forested area.
“The plane collided with a tree and crashed into the ground,” the report said.
The plane, tasked with monitoring wildfires, went missing after being taken on an unauthorized flight from an airfield near Serov. The pilot did not inform air traffic control of his departure. The head of Serov’s traffic police department was one of the 13 people aboard, including three women. There was no distress call from the aircraft when it disappeared.
Local hunters stumbled across the wreckage in remote terrain on May 5, after an extensive search operation by aircraft in previous months had failed to locate it. During the massive search operation, which covered thousands of square kilometers, rescue teams even came across the remnants of another An-2 and a Mi-8 helicopter that went missing in the 1980s.
Dubbed “the ghost plane” by the press, the fate of the missing An-2 quickly became one of modern Russia’s most talked-about mysteries. Investigators previously suggested that the plane might have been taken without permission by the pilot and his drinking buddies for a fishing trip or a visit to the sauna.