Ukraine war: Three Ukrainian military pilots including ‘mega talent Juice’ killed in mid-air collision

Three Ukrainian military pilots tragically lost their lives during combat training near Kyiv.

Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Three Ukrainian military pilots, including a "mega talent", were tragically killed in a collision involving two L-39 combat training aircraft in a western region near Kyiv, as confirmed by the country’s air force.

In his recent video address, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is currently overseeing the rapid training of crews for 61 F-16 fighter jets, paid tribute to the fallen trio.

Among them was Andriy Pilshchykov, affectionately known as ‘Juice’, whom he hailed as a dedicated Ukrainian officer who had made significant contributions to the nation. Zelenskyy described the collision as a "catastrophe in the sky."

In a video posted on X, Zelenskyy said: “Today is Ukraine’s Aviation Day. We are working to receive F-16s this year to begin its new chapter. Sadly, there is also tragic news. Yesterday, a catastrophe in the sky over the Zhytomyr region killed three pilots, including Andriy Pilschikov, callsign “Juice”.

“My heart goes out to the pilots’ friends and loved ones. The investigation is ongoing, and the truth will be revealed. Ukraine will never forget all those who defended its free sky.”

Air force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat described Mr Pilshchykov as a "mega talent" and leader of reforms. He wrote on his Facebook page: "You can’t even imagine how much he wanted to fly an F-16. But now that American planes are actually on the horizon, he will not fly them."

Sky News reported Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office announced a criminal investigation had been opened into whether flight preparation rules were violated following the crash on Friday.

"It is too early to discuss details. Certainly, all circumstances will be clarified," Mr Zelenskyy said.

The air force announced the crash on its Telegram app. "We express our condolences to the families of the victims. This is a painful and irreparable loss for all of us," it said.

Related topics: