The horrible crash that killed Poland’s leader and nearly 100 of its top people came when their Soviet TU- 154 crashed, an airplane so unsafe that even the Russians won’t fly them. A bad plane when made, it’s pure junk now, and, budget concerns or not, you don’t load your entire top command into just one of them lest, as Poland has just so sadly discovered, disastrous results occur.
During the Russian-Georgian conflict over South Ossetia, Kaczynski flew to Georgia to show support for the Georgian leader. The president, as the supreme commander of the military, ordered the pilot to land near the breakaway republic and the military pilot respectfully refused, saying it was too dangerous and that Kaczynski may be his supreme commander on the ground, but not in the air.
Eventually, he landed at a safer airport and the president had to take a really long drive in a motorcade. Upon arrival, an angry Mr. Kaczynski told reporters that it was unacceptable for his orders to be ignored like that and decisions about his travel be made “on such a low level.”
Many today have asked me how it’s possible that Poland, a country that can easily afford whatever airplanes it wants for its officials, thoughtlessly packed so many officials into a single Soviet-era aircraft.
Unfortunately, it’s insanely normal. When Tusk was flying to Moscow, he took with him a very prominent group of officials that included several cabinet ministers and chief executives of two major refineries, PKN Orlen and Grupa Lotos, as well as executives of gas company PGNiG.
Now the Soviet-era fleet is grounded and the safety rules for the travel of public officials will probably change. Too late.