'Always wanted to be a pilot': Family & friends of Russian plane crash victims speak to RT
Larisa, a friend of a crash victim named Lyudmila, remembered her companion’s kindness.
“Lyudmila was such a nice person. Always ready to help. There are few people like her...I feel so sorry for her daughter,” she said while fighting back tears.
Artyom, the friend of Sergey, a pilot killed in the crash, said his friend had “always wanted to be a pilot” and “loved everything related to flying.”
Elena, the wife of one of the crash victims, tearfully told RT about her husband.
“We haven't seen him for three months because he was working. Now we won’t see him ever again.”
Elizaveta, mother of Evgeny Korotkov, also told RT that her son boarded the Saratov Airlines flight to Orsk while on a business trip, along with his colleague. “I know that they’re working on some oil or gas pipeline in Orsk. Specialists from South Africa arrived there, and Evgeny had to sort it all out,” she said. She added her son’s company had already arranged a transfer for her to Moscow, and will help organize a funeral service in Ryazan – Evgeny’s home city.
Anastasia Koval, whose older sister Viktoria was a flight attendant on the doomed An-148 flight, said she still cannot believe her loved one is dead. “This time, she worked without having days off to support her family,” Anastasia said. “Everyone is calling or messaging me, [including] people from Crimea or even New York,” she added.
RT’s Murad Gazdiev traveled to the scene of the crash to speak with nearby witnesses of the tragedy.
“I was watching TV and heard the bang. Everyone heard the noise,” one woman said. Another resident said she “heard a loud clap,” which caused her entire bed to lift up. “My cats hid, it was really loud.”
“I would say it sounded like an explosion,” one man said. “Our house bounced.”
Meanwhile, Maksim Kolomeitsev, who had originally planned to be on the flight, spoke to RT about his lucky escape.
“I turn 37 today. I wanted to celebrate my birthday with my family, my friends, and my girlfriend in Orsk,” he said. “My friend who would have met me at the airport called me today and told me what happened. At first, I didn't believe him. Later, when I saw the news, what can I say? I felt a chill down my spine.”
Although the cause of the crash is currently unknown, RT has spoken to multiple aviation experts who speculated about the likely scenarios.
Commercial airline pilot Keith Wolzinger told RT that the weather is “probably the primary factor” that caused the crash.
“That depends a lot on the rate of the snowfall or precipitation and how long the airplane had been sitting on the ground collecting all that material... The fact that the airplane became airborne and climbed to 6,000 feet [1,829] tells me that probably the airplane was in pretty good shape at the time of take-off,” Wolzinger said.
The Saratov Airlines plane was a Russian-made An-148 that had been in operation since May 2010. The airline claims it had carried out all the necessary technical maintenance ahead of the crash, which killed 71 people. However, the same plane was previously involved in several safety incidents, including engine and fuselage problems.