A famous Ukrainian pilot with the nickname “Juice” and two other pilots lost their lives in a crash involving two Ukrainian aircraft on the night of August 25 in the Zhytomyr Oblast region.
The news of Juice’s death was relayed by his friend Potseluiev, who further affirmed the details by sharing his patch, according to Ukrainska Pravda. The State Bureau of Investigation has initiated an inquiry.
Initially, it was reported that the incident involved the two MiG-29s; however, Ukraine later disclosed that the collision occurred between two Ukrainian L-39 trainer aircraft.
Based on the preliminary information available, it has been ascertained that the collision took place during a training flight. Andrii Pilshchykov, known as “Juice,” was a MiG-29 fighter pilot.
Ukrainian Air Force posted on X (formerly Twitter): “On August 25, 2023, a plane crash occurred in Zhytomyr Region. 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.”
On August 25, 2023, a plane crash occurred in Zhytomyr Region.
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
— Ukrainian Air Force (@KpsZSU) August 26, 2023
During the onset of the Russian invasion, Juice was on the front lines of Ukraine’s defense, actively involved in safeguarding the nation’s skies. His efforts were notably evident during the air defense operations in Kyiv, where he played a significant role in enhancing the city’s protection against potential threats.
Meanwhile, users on X have shared their condolences regarding Juice’s passing, viewing him as a symbol of the unwavering commitment of the Ukrainian Air Force to safeguarding the nation from the Russian Air Force.
In the past year, during his interviews with prominent media outlets, including The Washington Post, Financial Times, CNN, Fox News, and BBC News, Juice had been a fervent advocate for Ukraine’s defense capabilities.
During these interactions, he emphatically urged Western partners to extend their support by furnishing Ukraine with advanced and modern fighter jets. His voice echoed through the international arena, highlighting the importance of bolstering Ukraine’s military capabilities in the face of escalating challenges.
A Well-Known Ukrainian Fighter Pilot
In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Juice rose to prominence as one of the most sought-after fighter pilots across the globe. He assumed a unique and notable role, effectively becoming a semi-official spokesperson for Ukraine’s air force.
On multiple occasions, Juice took it upon himself to vividly depict the heroic defensive actions of the Ukrainian Air Force.
These accounts provided a window into the challenges and courage that defined the Ukrainian air force’s response while deftly navigating between the looming threat of Russian missile strikes and the urgency of alert scrambles.
Additionally, Juice played a pivotal role in spearheading efforts to facilitate the provision of American fighter jets to Ukraine. As the US announced its plans to train Ukrainian pilots starting in October, Juice was one of the leading participants in the endeavor.
In a touching tribute, Juice’s friend, Potseluiev, shared a picture of Juice’s patch and heartfelt words: “You dreamed of an F-16 and saw the news of its delivery. You loved your bird and literally lived in the sky.”
“Our acquaintance was not long, but I am grateful to you for your important life lessons and drive, which will definitely remain in the Air Force and will become a driver of important changes for the next generation of pilots. RIP, Juice. Now you will literally hold our skies,” she added.
Undoubtedly, he stood as one of the most recognizable figures in Western media, frequently hailed as a symbol of the nation’s Air Force spirit.
He consistently emphasized the pressing requirement for Western-manufactured aircraft due to the numerical and technological disparities between the Russian and Ukrainian air forces.
In June 2022, Juice visited Capitol Hill, where he actively advocated training Ukrainian fighter pilots to operate F-15 and F-16 jets. He highlighted the complexities of employing Cold War-era weaponry like the MiG-29 against more advanced Russian fighter jets.
Juice also provided insights into the challenges associated with intercepting subsonic cruise missiles—a type employed to target critical military and civilian infrastructures.
Despite his persistent appeals, evident in nearly every interview he gave, the possibility of fulfilling Juice’s fervent wish for F-16s might materialize in the coming months.