Airplane IL-62M crash in Kabacki Forest in Warsaw

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LOT Flight 5055 was an Ilyushin Il-62M of LOT Polish Airlines that crashed in the late morning hours of Saturday, May 9, 1987. The event happened in the Kabaty Woods nature reserve on the outskirts of Warsaw, Poland. All 183 on board perished in the crash. The accident, which had the highest aviation fatality count in 1987, is the deadliest of any involving an Ilyushin Il-62 and the deadliest to occur in Poland.

The aircraft was an Ilyushin Il-62M built in the third quarter of 1983, bearing the name Tadeusz Kościuszko, after the Polish military leader of the same name. Notably, two different Polish Il-62s bore this name: one was Il-62 SP-LAB (cn 21105), the second plane of this type purchased by LOT in 1972; the other, which crashed, was an Il-62M purchased in 1984.

The Captain was Zygmunt Pawlaczyk, 59, with 19,745 hours in the air (5,542 on Ilyushin-62s) and a captain from 11 May 1978. The first officer was Leopold Karcher, the flight engineer Wojciech Kłossek, the flight navigator Lesław Łykowski, the radio operator Leszek Bogdan, and Ryszard Chmielewski, an instructor of flight engineers on a routine observation of the progress of Kłossek. By a twist of fate, Chmielewski was scheduled as a flight engineer on LOT Polish Airlines Flight 007 seven years earlier, but he switched shifts with his colleague.

The purser was Maria Berger-Sanderska; the other flight attendants were Hanna Chęcińska (who was in the technical cabin-bay, next to the engines, and probably — after decompression — lost consciousness and burned in the fire or was sucked out of the plane; her body was never found despite an extensive search), Małgorzata Ostrowska, Beata Płonka, and Jolanta Potyra.

Of the passengers, 155 were from Poland, while the other 17 were from the United States.

Accident summary

The chartered plane to New York City took off from runway 33 at Okecie Airport at 10:18 am. The pilots were cleared to climb to 31,000 feet (9,400 m) with a course set to Grudziądz VOR, which was reached at 26,500 feet (8,100 m). Soon after Flight 5055 took off from Warsaw, the crew was instructed by the ATC to climb to an altitude of 6,000 metres (20,000 ft) as quickly as possible:

      10:26 Flight 5055 Well, we go to New York, possibly we'll be able to get to flight level 180... (tongue-in-cheek)

10:26 Okęcie ATC Gentlemen! You won't make it. You have about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) to the TMN [Tango-Mike-November route]. I told you that clearance was set for 180 or higher. Military planes are training there, I have no communication with them to allow separation.

10:26 Flight 5055 Roger that. Roger that.

10:31:35 Okęcie ATC 5055, heading 310, immediately cut flight level 170 [17,000 feet (5,200 m)].

10:31:39 Flight 5055 5055, heading 310.

10:31:41 Okęcie ATC Climb immediately. I mean it, immediately.

At the moment, the crew applied maximum thrust on the engines to climb to 6,000 metres (20,000 ft). Supposedly, had they not applied thrust, the turbine disc in the inner left engine would have survived the entire flight. However, nine minutes after the thrust was applied, the faulty bearings inside the engine overheated enough (to about 1000°C or 1832°F) to cause an explosion.

An engine exploded and started burning at 10.41 a.m., when the plane had just passed Lipinki village, near Warlubie (near Grudziądz, at 8,200 metres (26,900 ft) and 810 kilometres per hour (500 mph)). The overheated bearings exploded, destroying the shaft; the turbine disc on the burning engine separated from the destroyed shaft; the freed disc spun to an enormous speed and, within seconds, explosively disintegrated, destroying engine two. Debris from the explosion violently spread around (with an estimated speed of 160 metres per second (520 ft/s)), puncturing the hull, severing flight controls and electrical cables, and causing damage to engine one — outer left one, which soon started also to burn. A piece of burning debris burst into cargo hold number 4 and caused a rapidly spreading fire; the inner left engine burned rapidly until impact.

Immediately, the crew noticed that the elevator control systems had failed — only the vertical trim remained operative — and that two engines were disabled. The reasons for this were unknown to the crew; they initially suspected that the plane could have been hit by something. The pilots started an emergency descent to 13,200 ft (4,000 m). The closest airport where the Il-62 might land was Gdańsk, but landing there was not possible because the crew could not dump enough fuel for the emergency landing attempt (the takeoff weight of the plane on that day was 167 tons, until 10:41 approximately 6 tons of fuel were consumed; the maximum landing weight of the Il-62M was 107 tons) so they turned their heading to Warsaw instead. Due to the damaged electrical system, the crew had problems with fuel dumping and they did not realize that the fire had spread to the cargo holds in the back of the plane (cargo hold 4 and 6, and in final minutes probably reached into passenger cabin).

Initially, the crew intended to land at the military airport in Modlin, but at the final moment they decided to continue the flight to Okęcie, where there was better fire and medical equipment. It was unclear at the time why the crew decided to continue the flight to Warsaw, given the rapidly spreading fire and lost flight controls, rather than land as quickly as possible at Modlin, where the fire and medical equipment was worse than at Okęcie, but still good enough to deal with an emergency landing of an airliner with an in-flight fire. Many at the time believed officials had decided the airliner must not land at a military airport and (contrary to official reports) denied the crew's request to land at Modlin. While this is somewhat plausible, no conclusive evidence supporting this theory was ever presented. The most probable hypothesis is that due to damage to the electrical systems, both the fire detector in the cargo hold and inside the engine did not work properly (on the CVR, an engine fire sound indicator was heard shortly after the explosion, but it later faded out; the signal reappeared less than four minutes before the crash and continued until impact) and so Cpt. Pawlaczyk did not know about the magnitude of the fire in the hold and how quickly it was spreading, nor about the burning engine when he decided to fly to Warsaw.

About 10:53, an explosion in the cargo hold occurred; the reasons are unknown. It is supposed that some of the fuel tanks were damaged and fuel vapors drifted into the burning cargo hold, causing an explosion.

The passengers were fully aware of the emergency; one of the passengers managed to write on the opening page of her copy of the New Testament Bible: 9.05.1987 The plane's damaged... God, what will happen now... Halina Domeracka, R. Tagore St., Warsaw...

CVR fragment — the moment of engine explosion

10.41.28 Intermittent acoustic signal of autopilot disengagement

10.41.30 Crew: Hey! Pressurization!

10.41.32 Acoustic ringing signal of cabin decompression

10.41.34 Crew: Is there a fire? What's going on?

10.41.35 Crew: Probably a fire.

10.41.37 Crew: Engine? Shut it down!

10.41.39 Crew: ...shut down. That first one is burning!

10.41.42 Crew:

10.41.44 Crew: ...all small [referring to engines' throttles]

10.41.45 Crew: Warsaw?

10.41.46 Crew: ...all small. Decompression.

10.41.48 Crew: Two engines are gone!

10.41.49 Continuous acoustic signal of engine fire.

10.41.50 Crew: Two engines are gone! [...] Shut down... [...] We're turning around! Fire!

10.41.55 Crew: Danger!!! Warsaw radar LOT! Warsaw radar! [calling flight control]

The crew tried to land at Okęcie from the south (due to strong wind) and turned the plane 180 degrees to runway 33 but a rapidly spreading in-flight fire, which spread to the exterior of the plane (which was trailing a huge flame and dense black smoke), caused a total failure of surviving flight controls, including the plane trim. The landing gear also was not functioning. The emergency fuel dumping pumps were also malfunctioning; supposedly because of damaged electrical systems; sometimes they stopped functioning at all, only to resume dumping fuel minutes later. At the moment of the crash, approximately 32 tons of fuel were still in the tanks. A very straight turn to the left was started at 11.09 at 4,900 ft (1,500 m) with an airspeed of 480 kilometres per hour (300 mph). At the moment, as the plane passed the village of Józefosław, approximately 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from the airport, several burnt-out elements of the plane's hull fell out, starting local fires on the ground. Supposedly, at this moment the fire destroyed the vertical trim controls. When the aircraft passed the town of Piaseczno, it went into sinusoid-shaped flight for the final seconds and nose-dived with a slight 11 degrees left bank and 12 degree pitch downwards, crashing into the ground at 480 kilometres per hour (300 mph) and exploding into pieces in the forest 5,700 metres (18,700 ft) from the Warsaw airport runway. (As the nose dive started very shortly before the crash, one hypothesis states that in the final moments, fire from the cargo hold spread into the rear part of passenger cabin, causing mass hysteria; the passengers moved towards the nose of the plane, away from fire, destabilizing the plane and causing the dive. Another theory is that rapidly spreading fire misshaped the hull in its rear part, which — combined with strong forces acting on the empennage – altered the plane's angle of attack and contributed to the rapid dive.) The remains of the plane were scattered over a rectangular area, approximately 370 by 50 metres (1,210 by 160 ft).

11.09.47 am

Okęcie Tower: From your current position you have about 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) to the runway.

Crew: Understood.

Crew: ...[turn] to the left! Engines to the left!

11.10.13 am

Tower: 5055, to the left, to the left zero-five-zero.

Crew: OK.

11.10.40 am

Tower: 5055, to the left, course 360.

Crew: We want to turn. That's just what we want. [implied meaning: "we're trying"]

Tower: Keep turning, turn to three-six-zero. Now you have about 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) to the runway.

Crew: OK.

11.11.02 am

Tower: 5055, to the left, course 330.

Crew: We are turning to the left.

Tower: Start final approach about 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) from the runway.

Crew: We will do all we can.

Tower: Understood.

Tower: [Turn] to the left, course 320.

Crew: Understood.

11.11.34 am

Tower: You've come to the right hand side of the runway centerline, continue left, course 300.

Tower: Wind is 290 degrees, 22 kilometres per hour (14 mph). You are cleared for runway three-three.

Crew: OK.

11.12.10 am

Transmitter turned on four times; fragments of unintelligible utterances

11.12.13 am

Crew: Good night! Goodbye! Bye! We're dying!!!

The last words recorded by the flight recorder inside the cockpit at 11:12:13 were: "Dobranoc! Do widzenia! Cześć, giniemy!" (eng. Good night! Goodbye! Bye, we're dying!). All 172 passengers and 11 crew died as the aircraft broke apart and crashed.


After the crash of the Il-62 SP-LAA on LOT Polish Airlines Flight 007, LOT Polish Airlines started replacing their Ilyushin Il-62s with the more modernized version, Ilyushin Il-62Ms. These had newer engines (Soloviev D-30 instead of Kuznetsov NK-8), but both of these turbofan engines shared the same critical point — low pressure turbine and engine shaft design and construction.

According to the Polish investigatory commission, the cause of the crash was the disintegration of an engine shaft due to faulty bearings inside the number 2 engine, which seized, causing extensive heat. This in turn caused the consequent damage to engine number 1 (and its fire), rapid decompression of the hull, a fire in the cargo hold (which was not detected due to a damaged fire alarm system sensor), as well as the loss of elevator controls and progressive electrical failure.

The bearings concerned were roller bearings; each was designed to have 26 rollers inside, but because the supply of the rollers to the factory was delayed — while the bearings had to be finished on time due to expiring contracts — each bearing had only 13 rollers


The Okęcie Airport fire crew was aware of the emergency; when the plane crashed, they immediately drove towards the crash site, but they did not manage to reach it because the truck was too wide and could not pass between the trees.

The day was warm and sunny, so many people rested in the vicinity of Kabaty Woods; after the crash many of them headed for the site. According to official reports, the site was quickly closed to the public, and no plundering of remains was officially registered. However, some unofficial reports about stealing money and valuable items surfaced later; Halina Domeracka's personal belongings, including her passport, New Testament Bible, photos, and glasses were recovered intact from the site, yet 400 U.S. dollars and 10,000 Polish zlotys were missing.

Because some burning pieces of hull fell out, several local fires were initiated on the ground, propagated by the dumped fuel; all of them were extinguished by 12:00. A total of 195 firemen from 44 different units participated.

All victims' bodies were dismembered in the crash; from a total of 183 bodies, 62 were never identified.

The first TV and radio news about the crash initially reported that the crashed plane was Il-62M SP-LBD (cn 1138234) "Gen. Władysław Sikorski".

All crew members posthumously received high military and civil decorations: Cpt. Pawlaczyk was given the Officers' Cross of Polonia Restituta, other flight crew members received Knights' Cross of the same order, and the flight attendants received the Golden Cross Of Merit. The state funeral of the crew was conducted on 23 May 1987 at the Northern Communal Cemetery in Warsaw. The graves of the crew of LOT Polish Airlines Flight 007 are located a few hundred meters (feet) away.

Two days of national mourning were announced after the crash. Many officials from the entire world, including Pope John Paul II, expressed their condolences to the families of the victims.

The incident's cause was similar to that of LOT Polish Airlines Flight 007's crash seven years earlier. After the disaster of Flight 007, the Polish investigatory commission established that its engine shaft disintegration was the result of metal fatigue, improper alloy preparation resulting in a defective mechanism which was less resistant to fatigue, and a faulty design of the engine shaft. Detection of these faults was possible only after complete disassemblage of the engine and detailed analysis of all its elements, and as such was beyond capabilities of the ground servicing personnel. These concerns were addressed by the Polish Government's Special Disasters Commission in the 1980 inquiry, but the Soviet designers, engineers and scientists disagreed with these findings, stating that the turbine disintegration was the result of engine failure, not its cause.

After Flight 5055's demise, a similar report was sent to Moscow; initially, it was denied (partially because the Soviet engineers and politicians still held a grudge against Poles because LOT Polish Airlines, after purchasing Il-62s in the 1970s, replaced their radionavigational equipment with separately brought and more modern American equipment; it was at the time considered very inappropriate for political reasons), and the Soviet engineers even made their own report, concluding that all damage to the engines were the consequence of the crash, which was caused by pilot error. However, despite pressure and threats from the Soviets, the Polish commission stood by their findings; finally, Soviet engineers and politicians reluctantly accepted responsibility. Soon after the crash, LOT Polish Airlines, still being unable to purchase non-Soviet aircraft, implemented several improvements in the Il-62s' construction:

  • doubling the flight controls (an issue raised in the 1980 report, but never addressed by Soviet engineers);
  • installing an advanced system of engine shaft vibration detectors in every engine;
  • installing more advanced smoke detectors in cargo holds (smoke detectors were found to be more reliable than the already used fire detectors) and advanced fire detectors in the engine nacelles;
  • replacing all flammable components in the cargo holds with nonflammable ones; and
  • mandatory laboratory test of engine lubricating oil after every flight (the test, had it been conducted earlier, would have detected the damage to the bearings)

After the Revolutions of 1989, LOT Polish Airlines started purchasing Boeing 767s for their transatlantic destinations. The last Polish Il-62 was sold to Ukraine in late 1991.

In alphabetical order we give a full list of the 183 victims of the disaster in the Kabacki Forest:


  1. Anna Małgorzata Adamska – 47 lat
  2. Włodzimierz Auguścik – 46 lat
  3. Władysław Bałdyga – 64 lata
  4. Halina Barszczowska-Jarosz – 46 lat
  5. Maria Berger-Sanderska – 39 lat
  6. Stefan Bidelski – 37 lat
  7. Krystyna Błażejewska – 39 lat
  8. Krystyna Boczar – 57 lat
  9. Leszek Bogdan – 43 lata
  10. Mirosław Borowski – 37 lat
  11. Antoni Brodziński – 60 lat
  12. Henryk Brzezik – 34 lata
  13. Bertha Bukowski – 54 lata
  14. Jan Buła – 31 lat
  15. Stanisław Byra – 63 lata
  16. Henry Chechowski – 39 lat
  17. Hanna Chęcińska – 36 lat
  18. Ryszard Chmielewski – 54 lata
  19. Halina Chmura – 22 lata
  20. Vincent Joseph Cwik – 29 lat
  21. Zdzisław Czajczyński – 58 lat
  22. Wiesława Czapkowska-Starczyk – 28 lat
  23. Bronisław Czechorowski – 35 lat
  24. Irena Czuzdaniuk – 50 lat
  25. Anna Dalska-Stec – 32 lata
  26. Waldemar Dąbkowski – 24 lata
  27. Halina Domeracka – 59 lat
  28. Stefan Drapała – 57 lat
  29. Antonina Duba – 49 lat
  30. Bernard Duba – 49 lat
  31. Jerzy Duszyński – 36 lat
  32. Krystyna Dymek – 41 lat
  33. Maria Dytrych – 25 lat
  34. Jadwiga Elbert-Chmielnicka – 41 lat
  35. Edward Feret – 37 lat
  36. Joanna Filus-Brak – 5 lat
  37. Kazimierz Filus-Brak – 39 lat
  38. Tadeusz Gierlach – 51 lat
  39. Danuta Gil-Laganowska – 47 lat
  40. Jadwiga Głębocka – 45 lat
  41. Roman Głębocki – 50 lat
  42. Antoni Głowacki – 33 lata
  43. Irena Gospodarczyk-Szklarska – 71 lat
  44. Władysława Grabias – 33 lata
  45. Janina Gregorczyk – 54 lata
  46. Marian Grzejka – 52 lata
  47. Kazimiera Hanson-Adrian – 95 lat
  48. Ludwik Jabłecki – 59 lat
  49. Artur Jaroszyński – 30 lat
  50. Dorota Jóźwik – 34 lata
  51. Stanisław Kabaj – 63 lata
  52. Lubomir Kaczor – 25 lat
  53. Janina Kalinowska – 62 lata
  54. Mirosława Karczewska – 38 lat
  55. Leopold Karcher – 54 lata
  56. Zenon Karwowski – 38 lat
  57. Aniela Kirsch – 45 lat
  58. Katarzyna Klimaszko – 65 lat
  59. Stanisław Kłos – 67 lat
  60. Wojciech Kłossek – 43 lata
  61. Helena Knapik – 42 lata
  62. Grzegorz Kolarzyk – 28 lat
  63. Tadeusz Kołdras – 40 lat
  64. Antoni Kołek – 33 lata
  65. Edward Kossak-Główczewski – 41 lat
  66. Władysława Kozakowska – 60 lat
  67. Stanisław Krukierek – 77 lat
  68. Halina Kruszewska – 47 lat
  69. Jacek Kuciak – 49 lat
  70. Krystyna Kuciak – 45 lat
  71. Anna Kulesza – 44 lata
  72. Bogusława Kurdyła – 20 lat
  73. Anna Łatka – 74 lata
  74. Stanisław Łęcki – 57 lat
  75. Lesław Łykowski – 54 lata
  76. Henryk Andrzej Mach – 39 lat
  77. Anna Maciąg – 41 lat
  78. Zofia Mackiewicz – 57 lat
  79. Chester Stanley Mailn – 74 lata
  80. Kazimierz Majchrzak – 31 lat
  81. Marian Małż – 42 lata
  82. Izabela Masłyk – 59 lat
  83. Andrzej Maziarz – 31 lat
  84. Jan Mazur – 32 lata
  85. Richard McConnel Clark – 51 lat
  86. Leokadia Męcikalska – 44 lata
  87. Tadeusz Miasik – 33 lata
  88. Anna Michalak – 83 lata
  89. Halina Miencicka – 58 lat
  90. Sylwestra Migiel – 37 lat
  91. Kazimierz Misiewicz – 41 lat
  92. Michał Miśkowicz – 38 lat
  93. Anna Murdyła-Dudziak – 35 lat
  94. Richard Joseph Nesgoda – 43 lata
  95. Robert Leonard Nesgoda – 51 lat
  96. Kazimierz Niemyjski – 36 lat
  97. Julianna Oberbeck – 62 lata
  98. Dariusz Odolecki – 25 lat
  99. George Olschewski – 37 lat
  100. Irena Orłów – 52 lata
  101. Kazimiera Orzeł – 48 lat
  102. Tadeusz Osipa – 42 lata
  103. Małgorzata Ostrowska – 29 lat
  104. Lucyna Pasińska – 48 lat
  105. Bogdan Paszczuk – 60 lat
  106. Henryk Paszczuk – 51 lat
  107. Irene Patrylak – 51 lat
  108. Zygmunt Pawlaczyk – 59 lat
  109. Władysław Pawłowski – 66 lat
  110. Anna Piękos – 48 lat
  111. Władysława Pisula – 47 lat
  112. Mieczysław Płatnerz – 56 lat
  113. Beata Płonka – 24 lata
  114. Martha Louse Pocelay – 25 lat
  115. Aleksander Pogorzelski – 70 lat
  116. Lucjan Pogorzelski – 45 lat
  117. Jolanta Potyra – 41 lat
  118. Adam Prus – 35 lat
  119. Zenon Przechera – 28 lat
  120. Stanisław Puzio – 41 lat
  121. Barbara Rogańska – 59 lat
  122. Urszula Rudnicka – 56 lat
  123. Zofia Rudnicka – 57 lat
  124. Kazimierz Rudnicki – 60 lat
  125. Krystyna Rudzińska – 55 lat
  126. Stanisław Rusnaczyk – 30 lat
  127. Helena Rutkowska – 72 lata
  128. Leonarda Rutkowska-Sawko – 49 lat
  129. Marian Rutkowski – 22 lata
  130. Wiktor Rutkowski – 53 lata
  131. Michalina Rycerz – 61 lat
  132. Marianna Ryczak – 58 lat
  133. Alicja Sadowska – 40 lat
  134. Władysław Sadowski – 48 lat
  135. Irena Salmonowicz – 62 lata
  136. Mikołaj Sawczyński – 51 lat
  137. Regina Schaumkkessel – 55 lat
  138. Katarzyna Sigda-Papa – 52 lata
  139. Laudine Sikora – 43 lata
  140. Krystyna Siwik – 40 lat
  141. Jan Skibniewski – 44 lata
  142. Mieczysław Słomka – 42 lata
  143. Jan Sobolewski – 41 lat
  144. Adam Sosnowski – 69 lat
  145. Helena Sosnowski – 66 lat
  146. Kazimierz Stec – 37 lat
  147. Ewa Surgał – 27 lat
  148. Stefania Szulc – 52 lata
  149. Wacław Śliwowski – 42 lata
  150. Jan Teodoruk – 31 lat
  151. Józef Teresak – 30 lat
  152. Andrzej Tokarzewski – 57 lat
  153. Anna Tomczyk – 38 lat
  154. Henryk Tomkiel – 64 lata
  155. Anna Torba – 50 lat
  156. Janusz Trubisz – 30 lat
  157. Yvette Victoria Trubisz – 2 lata
  158. Cecylia Trubisz-Famulak – 32 lata
  159. Ewa Trusewicz – 4 lata
  160. Jolanta Trusewicz – 25 lat
  161. Helena Turziak – 48 lat
  162. Bronisław Urban – 58 lata
  163. Bronisława Urban – 63 lata
  164. Zofia Wacht – 78 lat
  165. Andrzej Wesołowski – 35 lat
  166. Elisabeth Grace Widerynski – 30 lat
  167. Fryderyk Widłak – 53 lata
  168. Andrzej Wiechecki – 33 lata
  169. Maria Wilk – 56 lat
  170. Jan Stanisław Winiarski – 35 lat
  171. Jarosław Wiśniewski – 29 lat
  172. Rozalia Wojewódzka – 60 lat
  173. Wacław Wojewódzki – 57 lat
  174. Christine Wojtas – 4 lata
  175. Tadeusz Wojtas – 35 lat
  176. Irena Wojtczak – 65 lat
  177. Mirosław Woskobojnikow – 38 lat
  178. Gertruda Woytas-Koziol – 46 lat
  179. Stanisława Wszołek – 28 lat
  180. Kazimierz Zając – 40 lat
  181. Stanisława Zera – 57 lat
  182. Maria Zub – 36 lat
  183. Janusz Zyzda – 48 lat

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20Indonesian domestic flight plane with 54 people on board missedIndonesian domestic flight plane with 54 people on board missed16.08.2015en, lv, pl



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    Name Born / Since / At Died Languages
    1Beata PłonkaBeata Płonka18.08.196309.05.1987pl
    2Małgorzata OstrowskaMałgorzata Ostrowska03.01.195809.05.1987pl
    3Hanna ChęcińskaHanna Chęcińska19.09.195109.05.1987pl
    4Maria Berger-SenderskaMaria Berger-Senderska08.06.194809.05.1987pl
    5Jolanta PotyraJolanta Potyra28.05.194600.05.1987pl
    6Leszek BogdanLeszek Bogdan11.04.194409.05.1987pl
    7Wojciech KłossekWojciech Kłossek07.01.194409.05.1987pl
    8Leopold KarcherLeopold Karcher04.01.193309.05.1987pl
    9Lesław ŁykowskiLesław Łykowski02.01.193009.09.1987pl
    10Zygmunt PawlaczykZygmunt Pawlaczyk19.04.192809.05.1987pl