Two Ukrainian fighter jets collide in the sky, killing three pilots

Two L-39 fighter trainer aircraft collided in the Zhytomyr region this Friday, the Ukrainian Air Force announced. The three pilots on board both planes were killed in the accident when they collided in the sky during a combat mission about 180 kilometers from Kiev.

Among the deceased is Andrei Pilshchikovknown by the code name “Juice” and very popular because he has given several interviews to international media. The MiG-29 pilot explained to the Washington Post in April 2022 how the Ukrainians had fought the Russians for Kiev. Most recently, in a series of interviews with foreign media, he called on Western allies to provide his country with the F-16 fighter.

Ukrainian Air Force launched an investigation to determine if the aircraft were in good condition and whether all pre-flight rules were followed. The specialists will also examine the so-called black boxes, which record data on the movements of the planes and the reactions of the pilots.

We would like to express our deepest condolences to the families of the deceased.. “We appreciate their service and we will remember them both in the air and on the ground,” said an Air Force spokesman.

The wreckage of the planes fell in the gardens of private homes about 300 meters apart, Ukrainian service RFE/RL reported. No one on the ground was injured and there was no damage to the affected homes. The military removed the last piece of wreckage from the crash site around 3:30 p.m. local time on Saturday.

He Aero L-39 Albatross is a trainer aircraft manufactured in Czechoslovakia in the 1960s. It was the first second generation trainer aircraft.

The loss of three pilots is a major blow to Ukraine, which wants to train its aircrew on Western-donated F-16 fighter jets.

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