What is known about Juice and two other pilots who died in a plane crash in Zhytomyr region?
On August 25, three pilots, including a well-known Ukrainian fighter pilot with the call sign Juice, were killed in a collision between two planes. Learn more about the defenders of Ukrainian skies who laid down their lives for Ukraine's independence
According to the Ukrainian Air Force, two L-39 combat trainer aircraft collided in the skies over Zhytomyr region on August 25, killing three Ukrainian pilots - Major Viacheslav Minka, Major Serhiy Prokazin, and Captain Andriy Pilshchykov.
"We are sad to inform you that a terrible plane crash occurred in the Zhytomyr region on August 25, 2023. While performing a combat mission, the crews of two L-39 combat trainer aircraft collided in the sky. Unfortunately, all three pilots were killed. Among the dead was a well-known pilot of the 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade with the call sign "JUICE," the statement said.
The crash reportedly occurred during a combat mission. An investigation is currently underway, and experts have begun to examine the technical condition of the aircraft. They will also analyze compliance with flight preparation rules and diagnose the black boxes. The preliminary classification of the criminal case is violation of flight rules or preparation for them (Article 416 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). The sanction of the article provides for a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.
According to the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), the Zhytomyr Specialized Defense Prosecutor's Office of the Central Region is providing procedural guidance.
What do you know about pilot Andriy Pilshchikov, call sign Juice?
Andrii Pilshchykov served as a MiG-29 fighter pilot with the 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade. Back in 2018, Andriy took part in the international exercise Clear Sky 2018, where he received the call sign "Juice" from the Americans. He was the only pilot in the Ukrainian Air Force to have an official call sign.
Photo: Ukrainian Air Force
Since the beginning of the full-scale russian invasion, Andriy has been defending Ukrainian skies. In the first months, he took part in the air defense of Kyiv and other northern regions, covering Ukraine's strike aircraft. He was also one of the "Ghosts of Kyiv". Later, he flew missions in the East of the country. As of May 7, 2022, the Jus had 500 hours of combat flight time.
In addition to direct participation in combat operations, Andriy was actively involved in international activities, in particular, calling on Western leaders to provide Ukraine with modern fighters. He was interviewed by Western media on numerous occasions: The Washington Post, Financial Times, CNN, Fox News Channel, BBC News, and others.
In 2022, Andriy visited the United States of America to meet with US President Joe Biden's National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and other US lawmakers. During the meeting, the Ukrainian pilot also urged American representatives to provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets.
"At that time, we were coming literally from the battlefield to report on the state of affairs. Our delegation primarily raised the issue of air defense, which was the most critical weapon at the time. Thank God, we were helped with this, and now Ukraine has Patriot, NASAMS, IRIS-T systems. The guys have mastered all this and are using it very successfully. We can say that they believed us and entrusted us with air defense," Andriy said about the trip.
Juice insisted on the transfer of American fighters and literally "dreamed of F-16s in the Ukrainian sky" and did a great job on this issue. Moreover, he was to be one of the pilots of these aircraft.
"You dreamed of F-16s and waited for the news of their delivery. You loved your bird and literally lived in the sky. I am grateful to you for your important life lessons and drive that will definitely remain in the Air Force... RIP, Callsign Juice. Now you will literally hold our sky," wrote Pavlo Potseluev, an advisor to the Democratic Ax party and Juice's friend.
"A year ago, in the United States, Andriy met with American government officials, spoke about the urgent needs of the Air Force, was constantly in touch with California pilots, and was the main driver of the advocacy group to promote many decisions on the F-16. During the war, he gave dozens of interviews to Western media because he knew English well, and most importantly, the subject of the conversation, what could and should be discussed for Ukraine! You can't even imagine how much he wanted to fly an F-16...," wrote Yuriy Ihnat, spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force. "Andriy Pilshchykov was not just a pilot, he was a young officer with mega knowledge and mega talent. He was a great communicator, he was a driver of reforms in the aviation of the Air Force, a participant in many projects. I often supported his crazy ideas, which yielded incredible results!" the spokesman added.
What is known about Viacheslav Minka and Serhii Prokazin?
The Air Force spoke about the pilots who died in the plane crash.
Major Viacheslav Minka
Photo: Ukrainian Air Force
"He lived in the Kyiv region. He returned to aviation in 2015 when the russian aggressor attacked Ukraine. With the beginning of the full-scale invasion, he had more than 200 hours of flight time. He was an experienced and technically trained pilot of the brigade. He was familiar with different types of aircraft, and devoted a significant part of his service to instructing."
Major Serhiy Prokazin
Photo: Ukrainian Air Force
"He lived in Poltava region. He devoted 24 years of his life to aviation: from pilot to deputy brigade commander. Since 2022, he has had more than 100 hours of combat flights. His comrades-in-arms remember his extraordinary smile, sincerity, and ability to help in difficult situations."
We express our condolences to the families and friends of the Heroes who laid down their lives to protect the Ukrainian sky and the country's independence. Our gratitude and eternal honor to the Defenders of Ukraine!
We remind you! Protecting the Ukrainian sky has become one of the most difficult tasks in the face of the russian invasion. Learn more about those who defend Ukrainian freedom in the sky and on the ground in our previous article.
Main photo: from Andriy Pilshchikov's FB
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