The Ukrainian Air Force lost three of its pilots in a mid-air collision between two L-39 Albatros trainer jets, on Friday, August 25th.
The aircraft collided in mid-air in the Zhytomyr region, near the capital Kiev. One of the three pilots was Major Andrii Pilshchykov, known by the callsign “Juice” and considered an ace.
“Juice” had gained notoriety months ago when he was interviewed by Western media such as the BBC. The Major was considered one of the main interlocutors of the air force in seeking the transfer of F-16 fighters.
“You can’t even imagine how much he wanted to fly an F-16”, said Yuriv Ihnav, spokesman for the air force on a social media. “But now that American planes are really on the horizon, he will not fly them.”
Volodymyr Zelenskiy, President of Ukraine, regretted the deaths, but did not want to draw conclusions about the causes of the accident.
The L-39 Albatros is an advanced trainer jet developed in the former Czechoslovakia and entered service in the 1970s. The aircraft has a limited ground-attack capability.