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Pilot Says He Wasn’t Killed in Plane Downed over Honduras

March 14, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Pilot Fred Galiatsatos says officials erroneously identified him as having been killed in the downing of a cargo plane over Honduras last week, a published report said Saturday.

″I’m not dead,″ Galiatsatos, of Dania, Fla., told a Florida television station after he watched a broadcast Thursday identifying him as among those killed when a DC-3 was shot down, The Washington Post said.

The plane was shot down by Honduran combat jets Monday night. Honduran military officials said the dead included the plane’s American pilot, Joseph Bernard Mason of Miami Springs, Fla., and all three Guatemalan crew members.

Officials in Guatemala City, who said the plane had left there Monday morning with a flight plan for El Estor about 100 miles northeast, identified Galiatsatos as the co-pilot.

Galiatsatos said he flew the plane about a month ago from Fort Lauderdale International Airport to Guatemala City, where he left the plane. He returned to Florida the next day with his co-pilot, the Post said.

He said he was paid $2,000 to make the trip, but he said he could not remember who paid him, the name of his co-pilot or to whom he turned the plane over in Guatemala, the newspaper said.

The Post said Federal Aviation Administration records show the plane was taken off the U.S. registry on Nov. 11, 1986, when it was sold by All American Aviation to Glenn Rolle of Alice Town, Bimini Islands, in the Bahamas.

Galiatsatos said he did not know any of the crew members on the downed plane.

He said the plane was having mechanical problems before he left Fort Lauderdale a month ago, including a malfunctioning radio.

Honduran military officials said the plane was shot down after the pilot did not heed repeated warnings to identify himself and refused orders to land.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said the plane matched the description of one hit by Nicaraguan soldiers who believed it was carrying supplies for the Contra rebels. He suggested the anti-aircraft fire could have damaged the plane’s communications system.

Update hourly