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A Greek Boeing 737 is on its way from the island of Cypress to the city of Athens. As they climb to their altitude of 37,000 feet, there are nettlesome signals that something is wrong. Beeps and buzzes sound, and the warning light indicates that the plane is not configured for take off. The pilots are irritated.
What they don't notice is that the pressurization switch is set to "manual" instead of "automatic." It's in the manual position because maintenance men had just checked for any leaks in the cabin, and that required a manual setting. When they finished, they left the setting on manual.
At altitude, the oxygen masks popped out back in the cabin but the pilots mistakenly assumed that the signal for the event indicated overheating. Within minutes, all 129 people aboard were unconscious because of hypoxia. They were at 37,000 feet. The peak of Mount Everest is about 27,000 feet.
A flight attendant made a heroic effort to save the airplane and its passengers but it was too late. On automatic pilot, the 737 had circled in a holding pattern and was now out of fuel. It crashed into a mountain and killed everyone aboard.
Had the attendant managed to land the plane it wouldn't have made much difference to the unconscious passengers and pilots who, by this time, were in a coma and had suffered irreparable brain damage.
It was Greece's worst airplane accident and the government declared three days of mourning. And all because someone forget to reset a simple switch and because nobody else noticed.
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