A Surprising Number of Commercial Flights Have Been Shot Down by Governments (Including Malaysia Airlines Flight 17)

In July 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was shot down while flying over eastern Ukraine, killing the nearly 300 people onboard. And investigators just made a devastating discovery — it appears that the Russian missile that hit the plane originated from a Russian military unit. Russia is denying the claim, but all evidence points to them.

Believe it or not, this is far from the first commercial flight to be caught in the crossfires of governments. Unfortunately, it happens more often than you might think. These are a few of the most memorable occurrences.

The Cathay Pacific Douglas DC-4

Propeller plane flying

Small aircraft | Alexskiba/iStock/Getty Images

In 1954, a Cathay Pacific flight carrying 18 passengers on their way from Bangkok to Hong Kong was shot down by fighter planes of the People’s Republic of China. There were 19 passengers and crew onboard, and 10 of them died. The Chinese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs wrote a letter of apology to the British government, calling it an “accidental and unfortunate incident.”

Next: Only five people survived this horrific incident.

Libyan Airlines Flight 114

airplane flying

Airplane | Ep_stock/iStock/Getty Images

On February 21, 1973, Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 left Tripoli and headed for Cairo, carrying 113 people. But the plane drifted into Israeli airspace, and after repeated requests to change its flight path, it was shot down. The miscommunication killed all but five people onboard.

Next: This was the second deadly crash for this airline within five months, and no one survived.

Air Rhodesia Flight 827

Airplane in the sunset

Airplane | tonda/iStock/Getty Images

Air Rhodesia Flight 827 was heading to Salisbury from Kariba when it was shot down by Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) in February 1979. All 59 people on the plane died, making it the deadliest aviation incident in Zimbabwe.

Next: This doomed plane was carrying a U.S. Congressman.

Korean Airlines Flight 007

Airplane flying

Airplane | isfineday/iStock/Getty Images

On September 1, 1983, news broke that Korean Airlines Flight 007, also known as KAL 007, had been shot down. A Soviet Su-15TM fighter was to blame. All 269 passengers and crew died, including U.S. Congressman Larry McDonald.

Next: A heartbreaking miscommunication led to this shootdown.

T&G Aviation DC-7

DC-7 aircraft

Small aircraft | Akradecki/Wikimedia Commons

Five people were killed in December 1988 when a Douglas DC-7 chartered by the US Agency for International Development was shot down over the Western Sahara. Leaders of the Polisario Front were responsible, claiming the plane was mistaken for a Moroccan Lockheed C-130. The plane was being used to spray insecticide to control a locust outbreak.

Next: Three planes were affected by this horrible incident.

Transair Georgia

Airplane flying

Airplane | Den-belitsky/iStock/Getty Images

In 1993, three airliners belonging to Transair Georgia were shot down by missiles and gunfire on three consecutive days in September. The first was shot down upon landing, the second was shot a day later, also during landing, and a third one was shelled and destroyed on the ground. The missiles were fired by separatists in Sukhumi, Abkhazia, Georgia, and over 150 people died.

Next: The Ukrainian government was forced to pay the families of those who perished in this attack. 

Siberian Airlines Flight 1812

airplane in the clouds

Airplane | Dr.Fly/iStock/Getty Images

All 78 passengers and crew members on Siberian Airlines Flight 1812 died when the plane was struck down on October 4, 2001, crashing over the Black Sea. Ukrainian missiles were to blame, but it was an accident — the incident occurred during a military exercise. Still, the Ukrainian Government paid out $200,000 in compensation to the families of everyone who died. 

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