Dozens of passengers were killed when a Soviet plane crashed last October as the pilot tried a blind landing on a dare, the newspaper Soviet Russia said Thursday.
The paper reported that the Supreme Court in the Russian Federation sentenced the pilot, A. Klyuyev, to 15 years in prison for the crash at Kuibishev, 500 miles east of Moscow.
The report in Soviet Russia was the first known mention of the crash in the Soviet media.
It said the Tupolev 134A airliner was on a flight from Sverdlovsk in the Urals to Kuibishev on the Volga River on Oct. 20 when Klyuyev decided to try a blind landing as agreed on a dare with his co-pilot, G. Zhirnov.
At 3:48 p.m., two minutes before landing and at a height of 1,300 feet, he ordered the flight engineer to pull blinds over the windscreen and tried to bring the Aeroflot plane down using only instruments.
Klyuyev misjudged the altitude and speed of the plane's descent, the report said.
When the blinds were released less than a second before landing, Klyuyev tried to abort the landing but it was too late, it added.
"At 3:50 p.m. The plane crashed on the landing strip, made a gigantic jump, overturned and caught fire," it said. "Dozens of passengers died."
It said that three of the dead were flight attendants trapped in the passenger cabin but did not give an exact death toll.
Wanted to Test Abilities
Western commercial aviation sources said the twin-engine plane can carry about 88 people.
Soviet Russia said the co-pilot died of heart failure while trying to rescue passengers. It said Klyuyev, who appeared composed at the trial in Kuibishev, made the blind landing to test his flying abilities. It blamed the crash on his exaggerated sense of self-assurance.
The report said Klyuyev broke every rule on blind landings, which are allowed only on training flights and only if an experienced instructor is sitting in the co-pilot's seat.
Western airline sources said such landings were phased out by Western companies long ago for safety and economy reasons.