Body of pilot killed in 1996 plane crash to be pulled out
ANKARAThe body of a Turkish Lt. Pilot, who died after his military jet crashed into the Aegean Sea after a dogfight with Greek jets in 1996, is to be retrieved from the sea along with the plane wreckage, 17 years later.
Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz gave the long-awaited news to Nail Erdoğan’s family highlighting the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s sensitivity on the issue, who gave the order to the responsible officials.
“We have taken our plane which was downed off Syrian shores from a depth of 1,285 meters. And here we have [a plane at a depth of] 400 meters. We have decided to pull the wreckage as well as the body of our martyr,” Yılmaz said according to daily Vatan.
Lt. Pilot Nail Erdoğan was killed Oct. 8, 1996, as his F-16 fighter jet crashed after a dogfight with Greek Mirage jets.
Yılmaz, however, avoided giving a deadline for the completion of this work expressing his hope for the successful retrieval of the killed pilot’s body.
The 24-year-old daughter of the slain pilot, Evrim Erdoğan, has boosted her efforts for the return father’s body after the bodies of two Turkish pilots, who died in a plane crash on June 22, 2012, were successfully removed from a deeper location under the sea surface.
She had earlier addressed a petition to the President asking for his help to pull her father’s body out from the bottom of the sea.
Erdoğan, who collected around 10,000 signatures in three months for her petition, drew President Abdullah Gül’s attention and Gül ordered the Chief of General Staff Necdet Özel to focus on the issue. However, the order did not get a favorable result for the family.
“My father, who lost his life for this country, deserves a grave where I can go and pray for him,” Erdoğan said, adding that she looked forward to her “dream” finally becoming a reality.