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January 14, 1975

Discussion in '"Today in History", Literature & Media Review' started by Martin Antonenko, Jan 14, 2023.

  1. Martin Antonenko A Fixture

    He sacrificed his life to save others...!

    On January 14, 1975, Major Peter Makowicka...


    ...Member of the Fighter Pilot Squadron 1 of the National People's Army of the GDR stationed in Cottbus, with his MIG-21 in Cottbus, which has just come from maintenance.

    His mission:
    Machowicka is to put the - unarmed - combat aircraft, which has been equipped with a new engine, through its paces before it is transferred back to the operational unit.

    Up to the point of landing, the flight proceeds without any problems and to everyone's satisfaction...:


    When the major pulls out the landing gear around 10 a.m. to land back in Cottbus, that changes abruptly: the workshop has messed up!

    Suddenly, an incorrectly screwed maintenance flap on the compressor in the engine comes loose.

    Before take-off, the flap had not dropped due to the negative pressure in the intake port. After takeoff, the retracted main landing gear wheel prevented it from falling off.

    However, since there is overpressure in the intake duct during landing due to the throttled engine, the maintenance flap is now blasted off after the landing gear has been lowered.

    Air can now escape through the resulting leak in the air intake shaft, which disrupts the flow to and in the engine to such an extent that flameout occurs and the engine fails.

    Major Machowicka, an experienced pilot, reacts matter-of-factly, trying to keep control of his MIG in motorless gliding, which is very difficult with the machine equipped with delta wings.

    At the same time, he radioed the ground station to report the accident.

    From there he is immediately asked to eject with the ejection seat to save his life!

    However, Machowicka ignores this command and stays on the control stick!

    He's over a densely built-up area and obviously wants to try to crash his MIG somewhere where no unsuspecting people on the ground are endangered.

    He still manages to get over the full production halls of the "VEB Textilkombinat Cottbus"...




    ... to steer away a kindergarten and a school, both also full of people...:


    But then - around 10:10 a.m. - his plane drilled into a five-story prefabricated building and crashed through the second and third floors of the staircase at Schmellwitzer Straße 2.


    The MIG got stuck in the concrete structure with its rear protruding out of the building. A total of around 800 liters of kerosene escaped almost suddenly from the burst fuel tanks and ignited a fire with temperatures of around 1000 °C, which spread at breakneck speed.

    The fire brigade, who arrived in a hurry, initially hesitated to extinguish the fire until it was determined that the MIG really didn't have any ammunition on board that could explode...:


    It remains a mystery why the mechanics previously filled the MIG, which was only supposed to do a short test flight, to the brim with fuel!

    In addition to the pilot Peter Makowicka, who leaves his wife, five residents of the block of flats die directly at the crash site. They are all employees of the textile combine to which the block of flats belongs as a so-called "dormitory for singles"...:



    Another resident who was taken to the Cottbus hospital with severe smoke inhalation later died there. Her identity has not yet been fully clarified, but it is believed to be a 26-year-old Polish woman.

    The plane was recovered the afternoon of the crash. The place where the hole was in the facade of the block is closed in just two days. This repair can still be seen 40 years after the accident....:



    The crash has several aftermath:

    Firstly, in April 1975, the Berlin Military High Court sentenced the technician responsible for fastening the maintenance sheet with only 2 or three (instead of the prescribed 28!) screws to five years in prison.

    But the population is also stirring:

    The crash causes violent resentment. Residents of the entry lane are demanding a cessation of air traffic from jet fighters from the Cottbus airfield.

    Employees of the textile combine openly threaten the SED district leadership with a strike. Mothers refuse to take their children to the kindergarten located in the approach path.

    Residents demanded apartments in other parts of the city from the city council. We know all this because it was meticulously recorded in files by employees of the GDR Ministry for State Security.

    But not only the population expressed their displeasure, but also members of the council of the district of Cottbus called for the relocation of the planes.

    And the GDR authorities reacted!

    In the same year, the National Defense Council decides to expand the Holzdorf airfield for the later relocation of Fighter Wing 1 there.

    The fighter pilots were then relocated to Holzdorf in 1982. Instead of the aircraft squadron, combat helicopter squadron 3 was stationed in Cottbus, which posed less danger to the population...:


    Major Peter Machowicka...


    ... who sacrificed his life to save bystanders, was posthumously awarded the gold medal "For services to people and fatherland"...:



    He was buried with military honors in the Cottbus South Cemetery.

    The application by a woman from Cottbus in 2015 to name a street in the city after Machowicka was rejected by Mayor Holger Kelch (CDU)...


    ...rejected for reasons I don't understand.

    The textile combine whose lives were saved by Machowicka was closed and demolished after reunification - all workers - the vast majority of whom were women - lost their jobs!

    In its place there is now a shopping center whose name "TKC-Center" at least reminds of the earlier factory...

  2. sd0324 PlanetFigure Supporter

  3. Nap A Fixture

    Such bad mistakes from ground crew , can only imagine the pilots thoughts making split second decisions like this ....knowing his life was going to end but caring about others ....a brave man

  4. Martin Antonenko A Fixture


    Would you like to explain to us what is so funny about the story...?
    Banjer likes this.
  5. Martin64 A Fixture


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