Accident Report (abstract)

Site of accident: Mount Olympus, Greece

Date of Accident: Approx 250 BC

Aircraft Type: Winged Equine

Injuries: 1 (serious)

Investigator: Glutinous Maximus (Head of Air Ops, Mediterranean Sector)

Date of Report: 14/1/0001

Details of Accident

Considerable delay has occurred between the accident and this investigation, but the following facts have been established. The aircraft was a one-off winged equine acquired under mysterious circumstances by Bellerophon (formerly Hipponoüs), stepson of Glaucus, King of Ephyra. Prior to the accident, Bellerophon had flown the craft on several successful missions on behalf of Iobates, King of Lycia. These included killing the Chimera; conquering the Solymi; subduing the Amazons and defeating the Iobates' entire army. At the time of the crash he was on a self-appointed mission to fly "up to the heavens" (also reported as "to the throne of the gods").

Under the historical tenet of "finders-keepers", the pilot was de facto owner of the aircraft and had logged over 2000 flying hours (all on type). At the time of the flight the wind was 180/3kts and cloud cover was 0/10 at all altitudes.

There was apparently no pre-flight inspection (divine waiver). The aircraft was controlled solely by means of a golden bridle supplied to Bellerophon by former accomplice Athena. This was never recovered, but there were no previous reports of bridle-faults. On the day of the accident witnesses reported the aircraft to have successfully taken off from Iobates' private airstrip in Lycia, the pilot having earlier boasted that he would fly "to the heavens" on what was possibly a publicity stunt. No flight-plan had been filed with Lycian authorities and the mission had not been personally approved by Iobates. There were no other manned aircraft in Lycia at the time.

The maximum airspeed of the craft is unknown. The duration of the doomed flight is unknown. The altitude at the time of the incident is unknown, but was low enough that the pilot sustained serious, but not fatal, injuries.

On the final approach to Mount Olympus, the aircraft was observed to buck and pitch uncontrollably, immediately ejecting the pilot. The pilot-less aircraft apparently resumed its previous course and setting under autopilot and landed safely on Mount Olympus.

The pilot achieved terminal velocity and hit the ground approximately 2 miles from Mount Olympus. He did not die upon impact, but escaped with serious injuries. He was denied medical treatment due to "crimes of arrogance against the gods" (or lack of insurance) and apparently wandered alone, crippled, blind and humiliated, until he died anonymously an undisclosed period of time later.

Note: Upon landing at Mount Olympus, the Pegasus aircraft was claimed as salvage by Zeus who, for a time, used it for carrying shipments of thunderbolts. The change from passenger carrier to cargo carrier was not formally registered. Zeus finally disposed of the aircraft among "the stars".

Analysis of Accident

Despite the elapsed time and total absence of surviving physical evidence it is felt that insufficient information exists to infer the exact sequence of events and the cause of the accident. However, numerous eye-witness reports were filed at the time and statements were taken from the residents of nearby Mount Olympus. The statements contained some discrepancies, but these are very minor.

Reports indicate that Zeus, ruler of Mount Olympus, had fired (or had authorised the firing of) a "bolt of lightning at the craft as it tried to enter Olympian airspace. Lightning strike cannot be ruled out. The earlier loss of directional and altitude control is consistent with electro-magnetic interference to an inadequately shielded control system. Bellerophon's sons Isander and Hippoclochus claimed that it was an act of terrorism by Zeus who headed a loose alliance known as "The Pantheon of The Gods of Olympus".

It has also been widely reported that Zeus had employed an insect, possibly a gadfly, to either sting or bite Pegasus, causing it to spontaneously eject the pilot. In the absence of physical evidence, this explanation cannot be ruled out.

The pilot was not wearing a flight safety harness or any other form of restraint. He was not equipped with a parachute.

CAA Comment

Some accident reports erroneously cited Perseus as the rider of Pegasus for some of the Iobates missions. The confusion apparently arose following a fictionalised version of the incident in the20th Century docu-drama "Clash of the Titans".

The direct cause of the accident was an Olympian air-strike against a Lycian aircraft illegally entering Olympian airspace. There is no record of Zeus issuing a warning prior to firing

The severity of injury was due to a highly experienced pilot performing a stunt with inadequate safety precautions and no technical or medical support. In addition, Pegasus was not fitted with a radio or a transponder or a cockpit voice recorder.

This illustrates some of the problems of flying a one-off airframe of poorly documented origins. Pegasus had reportedly been manufactured from the blood of the neck of Medusa (Gorgon) who had been decapitated by Perseus on the orders of King Polydectes. Bellerophon had apparently "acquired" the aircraft while it was parked unattended at Mount Helicon in Boeotia. To effect the appropriation of the craft he had used equipment supplied by an accomplice, Athena. The aircraft was not reported stolen, but it is surprising that Bellerophon was allowed to continue flying it. He was a known criminal who had already changed his name from Hipponoüs after murdering a countryman and had fled his home country. He had been granted political asylum by Lycia.

Bellerophon left a widow, 2 sons and 2 daughters.


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