ATHENS – The Greek Parliament has okayed financial support for the family of 34-year-old Greek Air Force pilot Giorgos Baltadoros who died when his fighter jet plunged into the sea near the island of Skyros while returning from a mission to intercept Turkish jets violating Greek airspace.
That is standard practice for the children of pilots who perish in the line of duty and means they will receive a yearly stipend until they reach adulthood or, if they pursue university studies, until they turn 25.
Parliament President Nikos Voutsis expressed his sorrow “at the untimely loss of Captain Giorgos Baltadoros” with no cause yet given although he was said to be flying low in poor visibility and with high levels of Saharan sand in the air at the time and covering Greece.
Baltadoros was in one of two Mirages that left the island of Skyros to intercept a pair of Turkish F-16s that violated Greek air space in the area between the eastern Aegean islands of Lesbos and Chios.
When his jet arrived in the area the Turkish jets had already left and Baltadoros sent out a signal that the F-16s were beyond visual range.
An alert was sounded after the pilot of the other Mirage said that he saw Baltadoros’ jet suddenly “dip,” 9 nautical miles northeast of Skyros, Kathimerini reported.
“Today we lost a great air force pilot who died in the line of duty,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a tweet when it happened. “Our pain is great. Our thoughts are with his family and colleagues. On behalf of the Greek State, I express my deep gratitude and my sincere condolences.”
Tsipras also received condolences in a phone call from his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim, who has been provoking and taunting Greece and whose government continues to send fighter jets into Greek airspace with no rebuke from NATO, to which both belong.