05 August, 2018

Historic Junkers JU-52 crashes in Switzerland killing all onboard

A World War Two vintage aircraft has crashed in Switzerland killing twenty people according to the local police.

The aircraft was a Junkers JU-52, registration HB-HOT, of JU-Air and was carrying 17 passengers and 3 crew members on a special sightseeing pleasure flight when it crashed on Saturday afternoon. JU-Air said it was deeply saddened by the news of the crash and thinks of the passengers, the crew and families and friends of the victims at this time. The local police have set up a special helpline for relatives of those on the flight. JU-Air confirmed that it had suspended all its other flights until further notice.

During a press briefing on Sunday, the police advised that the aircraft came down on a mountainside about 2,540m (8,333 ft) above sea level. Passengers enjoying the special sightseeing pleasure flight in the historic aircraft were aged between 42 and 84 years old and that relatives or next of kin for all but one of the victims had been contacted.

While the cause of the crash is still unknown at this stage, an eyewitness reported the "plane turned 180 degrees to the south and fell to the ground like a stone". The local and national police, as well as the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board, have started investigating the accident. 

HB-HOT    Photo JU-Air

JU-Air had a fleet of four Junkers JU-52's of which three were still regularly flying, operating pleasure, charter and adventure flights. JU-Air was formed in 1982 with the express intention of converting the JU-52's, that had just been retired by the Swiss Air Force, from military to civil use and the airline started pleasure flights the following year.   Since then the company has carried over 14,500 people on these three-engined historic aircraft.  HB-HOT was manufactured by Junkers in 1939 and served in the Swiss Air Force for over 40 years. The aircraft had also been seen in major movies, it had been in the 1965 war movie Where Eagles Dare alongside Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton. More recently it was seen in the film The Valkyries (Die Walkรผrie) with Tom Cruise during 2007.