Dozens of friends and relatives of Aristos Socratous, the pilot of the doomed Flydubai flight that crashed in Russia in March killing all 62 on board, gathered on Wednesday to say their last goodbyes.
The funeral of the 38-year-old who was killed on March 19, while attempting to land the Boeing 737-800 at Rostov airport in southern Russia, was held at St Nicholas church in Limassol. The funeral had been delayed due to difficulties in identifying the victims.
Socratous is survived by a son he never got to see who has been named after him.
“We lost one of the most important members of our family, our pillar,” said Elena Vallianos, his cousin. “Aristos was a very great man, dignified, principled, honest and kind-hearted.”
Referring to the crash in her eulogy she said, “This should and could have been avoided and responsibilities will be sought.”
She described his new-born son, who now bears his name as a “Priceless gift from which all get strength”.
Saying goodbye, his sister Dina Socratous described him as “a unique man, who more than a brother to me was a father figure who stood by me, protecting and guiding me.”
She spoke of his dream as a child to become a pilot. “He loved machines, wanted more from life, was eager to explore the world and see things and he did just that. ”
A Flydubai representative described Aristos, which also means excellent in Greek, as having an exceptional professional ethos. “His parents must be proud of him because he was excellent as a person and friend, and as an employee of the company which will continue to support the family in any way they can and will honour his memory.”
Sokratous studied at Oxford Aviation Academy and had moved to Dubai after leaving Helios Airways following its closure in 2006 in the wake of the Helios air crash on August 14 2005.
In all, 62 passengers and crew died while the Flydubai flight tried to land at Rostov airport in southern Russia under harsh weather conditions.