UM Airlines Flight 4230 – 23 May 2003

Aviation history is unfortunately full of tragic accidents. There are many reasons for accidents in aviation. Human factors, operational reasons, meteorological reasons are just some of these reasons. Meteorological causes can lead to very dangerous results that people cannot prevent. Especially low visibility is considered among the biggest risk factors in aviation. Let’s look at the story of the UM Airlines Flight 4230, Yakovlev Yak-42 plane that crashed in 2003 due to low visibility and fog.

UM Airlines Flight 4230 is the flight of the Ukraine-based UM Airlines plane that crashed on 23 May 2003, near Maçka/Trabzon/Turkey due to heavy fog and low visibility.

UM Airlines Flight 4230
Yakovlev Yak-42
By Perry Hoppe – Gallery page, GFDL 1.2,

Crashed After 2 landing attempts

The Yakovlev Yak-42 aircraft was carrying Spanish soldiers returning from duty in Afghanistan from Bishkek to Zaragoza. The Yak-42 wanted to land at Trabzon Airport in Turkey for refueling. Trabzon airport is an airport located on the east coast of Turkey and built by the coast in a mountainous region. Due to the nature of the geography, the mountains in that region extend parallel to the coast. For this reason, the mountains rise like a high wall after the sea meets the land. After 2 landing attempts ended with go-around, the plane crashed into the mountain in the third attempt. Crash time was around 04.20 local time. All 62 passengers and 13 crew members died.

The plane crashed into Pilav Mountain in Atasu Town of Maçka district due to excessive fog. In the accident that occurred when the plane crashed into the mountain slopes, 75 people, including 62 Spanish Peace Corps soldiers and a crew of one Belarusian, 12 Ukrainian and 1 Belarusian citizen, lost their lives. During the accident, there were also several explosions, as Spanish Army ammunition was also on the plane.

Imam Sait Topçu, who was working in the mosque near the accident site, was one of the first people to notice the accident. After the plane crash, Sait Topçu immediately went to the area and informed emergency teams.

UM Airlines Flight 4230
Trabzon Airport

Turkish-Spanish Friendship Monument

A ‘Turkish-Spanish Friendship Monument’ was built in the 100. Yıl Park in the district center in memory of the people who lost their lives. The monument, which was built at the place where the plane crashed, was opened on 26 May 2004 with a memorial ceremony commissioned by the Spanish Government.

The bodies of those who died in the accident were delivered to their families. However, it was later revealed that there was an error in the identification of the soldiers by the Spanish authorities. The tombs of 21 soldiers were reopened and they were buried a second time after repeated DNA tests. Three generals were dismissed due to these disturbances.

UM Airlines Flight 4230
Turkish-Spanish Friendship Monument

Federico Trillo, then Minister of Defense and later appointed Ambassador to London, resigned from his position in 2017 due to a report on the accident.

In 2018, citizens found a human leg bone on Pilav Mountain, where the accident took place. It was thought that the bone might be related to the accident in 2003 and contacted with Spanish authorities. As a result of detailed studies on the bone, Spanish authorities reported that the bone belonged to a soldier who lost his life in the accident. The Spanish Ministry of Defense announced that the bone found will be sent to Spain.

Resources: – Trabzon accident