Aviator Andriy Pilshchykov, known by his callsign ‘Juice,’ is being fondly remembered and honored in a solemn ceremony in Kyiv. The event commemorates his life, tragically cut short along with two other pilots in an aviation accident in Zhytomyr Oblast on August 25.
The city of Kyiv has come together to pay their respects to the fallen aviator. The ceremony, attended by both military officials and civilians, is a somber reminder of the sacrifices made by those who protect Ukraine’s skies.
Among those attending was Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk, the Commander of the Air Force. His presence underscores the significance of the loss and the unity of the armed forces in times of sorrow.
The three pilots tragically lost their lives in a midair collision of two L-39 combat training aircraft in Zhytomyr Oblast on August 25. The Zhytomyr specialized defense prosecutor’s office initiated a criminal proceeding, preliminarily qualifying the incident as a violation of flight regulations (Article 416 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine), according to a statement from the Prosecutor General’s Office transmitted through Ukrinform. The aircraft crashed into separate vegetable gardens adjacent to detached houses, located approximately 300 meters apart from each other.
Among the fallen heroes was the well-known pilot Andrii Pilschykov, recognized by his call sign “Juice,” who was a distinguished member of the 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade. Since the outset of the Russian aggression, he courageously defended his homeland. He quickly established himself as an accomplished expert, particularly during the defense of the capital city and subsequent engagements on various fronts. The iconic portrayal of the “Kyiv ghost” draws heavily from the character of ‘Juice’. The pilot possessed extensive expertise, amassing over 500 flight hours by May 2022 – notably, these were combat hours, not mere training sessions.
Andrii Pilshchykov had a remarkable career, having flown a MiG-29 fighter jet. During Russia’s full-scale war with Ukraine, he valiantly defended the skies over Kyiv. In interviews with Western media outlets, he advocated for the supply of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, demonstrating his dedication to the nation’s defense.
“Surface-to-air missile systems and new jets are our priorities, to shore up our losses and maintain our air policing and push away Russian jets. We can break it up into two stages.The first, easiest, and the quickest stage is for Ukraine to receive old Soviet stuff, like MiG-29s, S-300s, Buks, [9K33 Osa surface-to-air missile systems], and other systems.” Juice said in one of the interviews.
The initial report regarding Juice’s demise was communicated by an associate identified as Pavlo Potseluyev. Potseluyev released a heartfelt statement about the pilot. Juice held a deep affection for the sky, exhibiting a strong attachment to the aircraft he piloted, often referring to it as his “bird.” He also held a strong aspiration to operate the F-16 aircraft that were anticipated to be supplied. Regrettably, Juice did not have the opportunity to witness the arrival of these American planes.
“You loved your bird and literally lived in the sky. Our acquaintance wasn’t long, but I’m grateful to you for the important life lessons and the drive that will undoubtedly remain in the Air Force, becoming the driving force for significant changes for the new generation of pilots. Eternal memory, Juice. Now you will literally guard our sky,” Potseluyev wrote.
— Melaniya Podolyak (@MelaniePodolyak) August 26, 2023
The late aviators would receive posthumous military honors. Major Vyacheslav Mints and Major Serhiy Prokazin have been posthumously promoted to the rank of “Lieutenant Colonel.” Meanwhile, Captain Andriy Pilshchykov has been elevated to the rank of “Major.” These honors serve as a testament to their dedication and bravery.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed his condolences to the friends and families of the pilots on August 26.