A plane carrying two Russian-speaking passengers flies over half of Eastern Europe without permission and manages to escape from military planes

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The plane, sold to “three Russian-speaking customers” in Lithuania, went off the transponder in the east of the continent and flew without authorization until landing in Bulgaria. Its occupants could not be traced.

The aircraft is called Lai-Lu and is a Piper PA-23-250-Aztec.
The aircraft is called Lai-Lu and is a Piper PA-23-250-Aztec.Corriere della Sera
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And Small Evin Twin Engine It has flown over half of Eastern Europe with two people “speaking Russian”, without authorization, with transponders shutting down and military planes managing to flee. Two passengers also threatened the owner of a small airstrip in Hungary, where they disembarked to refuel and took off again.

Mystery

There are still many points to be clarified about what happened and what is involved in the investigation. various international intelligence agencies, Not only is the identity of the Russian speakers on board unknown, but the specific route taken by the plane is also unknown. what is known that he was a Piper PA-23-250-Aztec The six-seater that had been stable in Lithuania for some time and whose owner was eager to get rid of. Apparently, the plane flew over the skies of Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria for a few hours at low altitude and tried to go unnoticed—though in vain.

sales details

It all started at the end of May when bronnius zaromskis, director of the small Lithuanian Nida Airport, contacted a person interested in purchasing his small Piper aircraft, registered as Lai-Lu, which had been for sale for several years and was not used . “Three people arrived, inspected the plane and decided to buy it,” the Zaromskis told local television RRT. According to what he said, none of the three could be identified as they transacted through a ghost company.

“I couldn’t tell where the buyers were from. Maybe they were Ukrainian, Romanian or Bulgarian, but I used to talk to them in Russian,” he recalls. What he knows for sure is that “they were certainly not Lithuanians.”

The delivery of the aircraft took place in Panevice, Lithuania. At Nida airport, which is only a few minutes’ drive from the border with Kaliningrad (Russia). “I’ve been trying to sell the plane for years, I didn’t have anywhere to store it, so I’m glad someone bought it,” he says.

take off and see

It was June 8 when two of the three unidentified men boarded the Piper, started its engines and took off. Oro Navigasija, the company that manages air traffic in Lithuania, confirmed that takeoff took place in the country that day, but did not say from where. In any case, it is known that it was not from any of the country’s three main airports (in Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga), so it is doubtful that it could have taken off from the Panevice runway. In addition, the two passengers presented no flight plans, did not have travel rights and never contacted Lithuanian air traffic controllers.

The Piper flew unnoticed – not even by the anti-intrusion systems installed in recent months in Eastern Europe – until it appeared in Slovakia. From there it entered Hungarian airspace just before lunch. There he also landed at Hajdszoboszl Regional Airport without permission and threatened one of its employees, who called the police. However, when the agents arrived, the plane took off again at around 5.30 pm.

harassment

It was at this time that at 5:38 pm two Hungarian military fighters were successful. stop the piper, tried to establish contact with the aircraft (without success) and also did not respond to emergency coded specific messages. The passengers turned off their transponders and were flying downstairs. According to several local media, the plane entered Romania at 5:48 pm, but thanks to an agreement between the two countries, Hungarian fighters were also able to track them down in that country.

Last Minute

Ten minutes later American Armed Forces F-16s appeared based at Ftesti, and then left the pursuit at around 6:42 AM in the hands of Romanian F-16s. At this point they failed to establish any contact with the aircraft and it was not clear why military aircraft did nothing to land the aircraft.

In any case, Piper entered Serbian airspace for a few minutes and at 7:09 pm it took off over Bulgarian skies, however, Sofia did not send any aircraft because “at no time did the aircraft hit the civilian and military infrastructure”. ” The country’s army”, as the Bulgarian Defense Minister, Dragomir Zhakov, later explained at a press conference. Piper landed, hours later, at Targovishte, near Buhovsti, in northeastern Bulgaria. However, its occupants are still unknown. It’s gone.

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