Cyprus Mail

Two more Noratlas planes from ’74 found buried in old Nicosia airport

The entrance to the UN-controlled buffer zone at the old Nicosia airport

Two more Greek military transport planes badly damaged by friendly fire in July 1974 have been located, this time near the old Nicosia airport, according to reports on Thursday.

The Noratlas planes were part of operation ‘Niki,’ victory in Greek, a covert operation on July 21, 1974 to carry a battalion of Greek commandos from Crete to Cyprus in 15 aircraft.

Thirteen made it to Cyprus – one returned to Crete and the other landed in Rhodes.

Authorities reportedly received a tip about two Noratlas aircraft located in the vicinity of the old Nicosia airport – now in the UN-patrolled buffer zone – from a Greek Cypriot man who during the time in question worked as an electrician at the airport’s RAF unit.

According to Antenna channel, in December 1974 he witnessed a British officer towing the two aircraft to a location some 100 metres to the southwest of the airport’s runway 27.

The two aircraft were subsequently lowered into a ravine and covered with dirt.

After sustaining fire from Greek Cypriot anti-aircraft batteries, the planes had remained immobilized for several months on the runway before they were disposed of.

Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Issues Photis Photiou was cited as confirming the discovery. No bodies have been found among the debris, he said.

On the Noratlas aircraft that was shot down and buried at the Tomb of Makedonitissa, a military cemetery and war memorial, Photiou also told Antenna that DNA identification of those on board has been completed.

The remains would soon be returned to the families of the fallen in Greece with full military honours, he said.

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