One of Ukraine’s most celebrated fighter pilots and two other airmen have been killed in a mid-air crash.
Andrii Pilshchykov won fame taking part in dogfights over Kyiv during the early phase of Russia’s invasion.
The Ukrainian military called the airmen’s deaths “painful and irreparable” losses, and paid tribute to Pilshchykov as a pilot with “mega knowledge and mega talent”.
The crash involved two L-39 training planes flying over northern Ukraine.
An investigation is under way into whether flight preparation rules were not correctly followed, resulting in Friday’s crash in Zhytomyr Oblast. The region is west of the capital, Kyiv, and hundreds of miles from the frontline.
President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed the deaths in his nightly video address, saying that his country would “never forget anyone who defended the free skies of Ukraine.”
Last autumn, as Russia launched hundreds of cruise missiles and drones at Ukraine, Pilshchykov – who flew under the call-sign “Juice” – spoke to the BBC about the pressure he felt as a MiG-29 fighter pilot tasked with trying to intercept the deadly weapons before they struck.
source : BBC News