Two trying to save jet ID'd
16/08/2005 18:50 - (SA)
Larnaca - A trained pilot standing in as cabin crew and his air hostess girlfriend appear to have been the two people seen by Greek air force pilots trying to save a Cypriot jet before it plunged into a hillside outside Athens, reports said on Tuesday.
Andreas Prodromou and his girlfriend Haris Charalambous have been provisionally identified as the pair from video footage shot from the two F-16s scrambled after communications with the airliner were lost on Sunday, the privately owned Antenna television reported.
The crash, which killed all 121 people on board, was the worst air disaster to befall Cyprus and the local media has been full of tragic stories about whole families wiped out and children losing their parents.
Prodromou had taken the job as a steward at Helios Airways after failing to find work as a pilot, despite strong pressure from his family not to take a position for which he was over-qualified, Antenna said.
In a tragic twist, he was only on the doomed plane as a last-minute replacement for a colleague without pilot training who couldn't make the flight.
He had received the call less than three hours before take-off and only agreed to go as his girlfriend was also working on the flight.
"He was a pilot and went to work as an air steward and I told him this is not a good job but he insisted," his bereaved grandfather told Antenna, which did not give his name.
"What do I say now?"
Antenna broadcast photographs of Prodromou and his girlfiend embracing and reported that they had plans to marry.
The crew of the two Greek warplanes reported seeing the Cypriot airliner's co-pilot Pambos Charalambous slumped over, perhaps unconscious, and pilot Marten Hans Jergen not in his seat, while the cockpit's oxygen masks were "activated".
They said two people were seen wrestling with the controls of the Boeing-737 minutes before it crashed near Varnava, northwest of Athens.
The bodies of the co-pilot and a stewardess have been recovered, but those of Prodromou and the German pilot have yet to be found.
Prodromou was one of two crew called in at short notice for the flight.
Chief purser Louisa Vouteri, 32, a Greek national resident in Cyprus, was also called in to replace a sick colleague.
She had been due to get married next month.