1981 Pushkin Tu-104 crash

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1981 Pushkin Tu-104 crash
CSA Tu-104A OK-LDC ARN May 1971.png
A Tu-104 similar to the accident aircraft
Date7 February 1981 (1981-02-07)
SummaryPilot error
Site20 meters south of the runway at Pushkin Airport
Aircraft typeTupolev Tu-104
OperatorSoviet Navy
Flight originPushkin Airport
DestinationKhabarovsk Novy Airport

On 7 February 1981, a Tupolev Tu-104 passenger jet crashed during take off from Pushkin Airport near Leningrad (today's Saint Petersburg), Russia, resulting in the death of all 50 people on board, including 28 high-ranking Soviet military personnel. The official investigation concluded that the aircraft was improperly loaded.


At 18:00 local time the Tu-104 lined up on runway 21 and commenced its take-off run during snowing weather conditions. After rotation the aircraft pitched up beyond normal take off attitude and eight seconds after lift off, at an altitude above ground level (AGL) of 50 meters the Tupolev stalled and entered a right bank. The aircraft continued to roll right until it struck the ground 20 meters from the departure end of the runway, crashing nearly inverted and bursting into flames, killing 49 of the 50 people on board. One person who was in the cockpit was ejected from the nose of the aircraft and was found alive in the snow not far from the crash site but died on the way to a hospital.[1][2][3][4][5]


The Tupolev Tu-104A involved was serial number 76600402 and registered as CCCP-42332 to the Soviet Navy. The construction of the airliner was completed on 26 November 1957.[1]


The investigation of the accident revealed that the crew allowed the aircraft to be improperly loaded. Evidence was uncovered that led investigators to believe that some military officers did not comply with seating assignments given by the crew and that these officers pressured the crew to make the flight in an unsafely loaded aircraft. Another factor reported by witnesses was that large rolls of paper were loaded on board and it is believed that these rolled rearward during acceleration on take off, causing the center of gravity (CG) to shift aft of acceptable limits thereby reducing the stability of the aircraft in pitch, making it impossible for the crew to lower the nose.[1][2][3][4][5]


Memorial in the Serafimovskoe Cemetery, St Petersburg to those who died in the 1981 crash

The Tupolev Tu-10A was carrying many of the Pacific Fleet's senior officers from Leningrad, where they had been attending meetings with the naval command, to Vladivostok, via Khabarovsk. Among the dead were 16 admirals and generals, including the commander of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Emil Spiridonov and his wife. They were both interred with most of the other victims of the crash in the Serafimovskoe Cemetery in Leningrad, where a memorial to the dead was erected on the orders of the Navy's Commander-in-Chief, Sergey Gorshkov.[6] A memorial service is held annually on 7 February at the St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral in St Petersburg, and on the twentieth anniversary of the crash the line “Those who died in the line of duty on 7 February 1981” and an Orthodox cross were added to the memorial stele commemorating the Pacific Navy sailors.[6]


  1. ^ a b c "Tupolev Tu-104A Board number: USSR-42332". russianplanes.net (in Russian). 2011-02-01. Retrieved 2018-07-15.
  2. ^ a b "Crash of a Tupolev TU-104 in Pushkin :52 killed". baaa-acro.com. Retrieved 2018-07-08.
  3. ^ a b "Accident description 7 February 1981". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  4. ^ a b "Accident description March 31, 1971". planecrashinfo.com. Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  5. ^ a b "Even the admiral will not abolish the laws of aerodynamics". nvo.ng.ru (in Russian). 2008-11-04. Retrieved 2018-07-15.
  6. ^ a b Koshelev, S. "ЧЕРНЫЙ ФЕВРАЛЬ" (in Russian). Morskaya Gazeta. Retrieved 8 April 2019.