Actually, a crossing of the Mediterranean was planned. The two pilots wanted to fly from Crete to Hurghada in Egypt in around five hours on Thursday (December 15) in the brand-new Pilatus PC-6. At 9:45 local time they were ready and accelerated onto runway 09 of Heraklion International Airport Nikos Kazantzakis.

The plane took off into the blue sky over the Greek island. But just two minutes later, the younger of the two pilots sent the emergency call Mayday, Mayday, as the newspaper “Etnos” reports. He turned the Pilatus Porter around and tried to get back to Heraklion airport.

But that didn’t work anymore. After a total flight time of around four minutes, the last Pilatus PC-6 ever built crashed into the sea near Kako Oros – around 300 meters from the Cretan coast and 6.5 kilometers from the airport. Recordings of the Flightradar 24 flight tracking service show that the maximum calculated altitude for the flight was around 425 meters.

There are confusing reports on the possible causes of the crash. According to state broadcaster ERT, the Pilatus PC-6 Porter may have had a technical problem. The surviving 26-year-old South African pilot (depending on the source, the age is also given as 32 or 34 years) put this on record, according to the report. He was released from the hospital a few hours later.

But there are other representations as well. The survivor is said to have said that his 68-year-old colleague (or 62, depending on the source) complained of being unwell right from the start. According to the Cretapost newspaper, the elderly pilot is said to have felt severe pain in his chest. While trying to help the older colleague, the younger one may have lost control of the plane, the paper said.

The Greek Coast Guard and sea rescue were quickly at the crash site. When they arrived, they found the younger man floating in the water. “His arm was petrified, hardened from the effort, and he was sinking. He couldn’t swim anymore. He was in shock, hypothermic and shaking. He screamed ‘I’m done’,” a rescuer told local Crete TV.

The other man was unconscious. CPR attempts were apparently made for 40 minutes. But in the hospital only the death of the elderly could be determined.

The investigation into the crash of the PK-SNF is now being conducted by the Greek Committee for Accident Investigation and Flight Safety. Next week, a special team is to salvage the sunken Pilatus Porter with the help of the Navy. It is unclear whether the plane was equipped with a black box that could provide answers as to what happened on board and led to the crash.

This article was written by Stefan Eiselin

The original of this post “Following a plane crash near Crete, pilot drifts in the water: “I’m done!”” comes from aeroTelegraph.