“Under the procedural leadership of the Zhytomyr specialized defense prosecutor’s office of Central region, a criminal proceeding was initiated with the preliminary legal qualification of violation of rules of flights or preparation for them (Article 416 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine),” the Prosecutor General’s Office wrote on Telegram, according to Ukrinform.
The Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine confirmed the fact of the plane crash and the information about the death of the pilots.
“It is with sadness that we inform you that a terrible plane crash occurred in Zhytomyr region on August 25, 2023. During a combat mission, the crews of two L-39 combat training aircraft collided in the sky. All three pilots, unfortunately, died. The investigation is ongoing,” reads the Air Force’s post.
A well-known 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade pilot Andrii Pilschykov, the call sign JUICE, was among those killed in the crash.
According to Radio Liberty, the planes crashed into the vegetable gardens of detached houses some 300 meters apart from one another.
On August 25, 2023, a plane crash occurred in Zhytomyr Region.— Ukrainian Air Force (@KpsZSU) August 26, 2023
During a combat mission, two L-39 aircraft collided in the sky.
Three pilots died.
Among the dead is a pilot with the call sign "JUICE".
We express our condolences to the families of the victims. pic.twitter.com/LOrvhFsmvk
On 26 August, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed condolences to friends and families of the pilots:
Today is Ukraine’s Aviation Day. We are working to receive F-16s this year to begin its new chapter.— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) August 26, 2023
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… pic.twitter.com/DSahAg3vom
Andrii Pilshchykov flew a MiG-29 fighter jet. After the beginning of Russia’s full-scale war with Ukraine, he defended the skies over Kyiv. In an interview with Western media, he called for the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.