The last flight

Tragic story of the worst aviation accident in Slovenian history.
Tragic story of the worst aviation accident in Slovenian history.

The plane crash

On the morning of December 1, 1981, a plane of the Adria Airways company flew from Brnik Airport in Ljubljana (Slovenia) towards the capital of Corsica (France) with 173 passengers and seven crew members on board. This was Adria's first flight to Corsica. Unfortunately, it was also the last one. Just before landing in Ajaccio the plane crashed into the 1.365-meter high San Pietro Mountain, killing all 180 people on board.

What happened?

The accident was the result of a fatal mixture of factors. Campo dell'Oro Airport didn’t have a radar at the time of the crash, and due to poor visibility, the control tower was convinced that the airplane was located above the sea, when in fact, it was already 15 km inside the mountainous island. The crew flew for the first time in that area and they didn't know the airport and its surroundings, so they followed orders from the control tower. Furthermore, the recordings from the black box later revealed that the communication between the control tower and the cockpit was disturbed. The weather was very bad and just before landing the airplane found itself surrounded by fog

In the cockpit there was also the seven-year old son of the co-pilot. When the child saw the plane descend, he asked the pilot if they are landing soon. The pilot replied: "Yes, we are, no one has ever stayed up in the air." A moment later, security systems in the aircraft warned them about the fatal proximity to the ground.

An emergency search

Seven minutes after the control tower lost contact with the plane, an emergency search began, but they were searching in the wrong place. Finally, four hours after the accident, the wreckage of the aircraft was found by shepherds on the top of the San Pietro Mountain. The next day the rescuers reached the crash site, only to find out that there were no survivors. Remains of corpses were transported to the village church, where they carried out the identification.

On December 9, 1981, a plane with 180 coffins landed at the Ljubljana airport. Victims that weren't identified, were buried in a common grave at the Žale cemetery in Ljubljana, where a memorial reminds visitors of the tragic event. The other victims were buried in their hometown cemeteries. Such is the case of Sergej Ničevski, who is buried at the Pobrežje Cemetery in Maribor and has the word “Korzika” (eng. Corsica) written on his grave.


For many years the tragic accident remained unexplained and the airplane parts as well as some personal belongings of the victims were scattered on the San Pietro Mountain. The story had its epilogue in 2008 when the Government of Slovenia in cooperation with Adria Airways and Kompas (the Slovenian travel agency that organized the fatal in 1981) planned and funded a cleanup operation. In May 2008, a team of about 60 members of mountain rescuers, firefighters, civil protection and soldiers, with the support of a helicopter of the Slovenian Army, removed about 27 tons of waste from the mountain, including larger pieces of the airplane.

Stories that connect

The story of the plane crash in Corsica connects the cemeteries where the victims are buried as well as the whole nation. Destiny symbols on the monument at Žale Cemetery and on the grave of Sergej Ničevski at Pobrežje Cemetery reveal the particularly tragic end of a life path and help to keep alive the memory of this horrific event.

Do you know any similar stories from the cemeteries in your country? Contact us and let us know!

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