On June 8, a small plane, a Piper Aztec, took off from Lithuania (apparently) and flew over several European countries and hundreds of miles before finally landing – and the mystery pilot disappeared. Along the way, the aircraft was intercepted by several fighter jets. Here is a look at what happened.
Mystery Pilot Flew Around Europe – And Then Disappeared
The History of the Plane
There are several interesting elements to this story so we will start at the beginning with the plane itself. According to Mentour Pilot, the plane’s registration was LY-LOO and was registered in Lithuania. It is a PA-23-250 Aztec model from Piper and built in 1962. It’s current status is that it is deregistered.
According to the same story, the previous owner claimed that the current owners had come to inspect and purchase the plane but did not speak Lithuanian. Instead, the two parties spoke in Russia. The owner says that he does not remember the name of the company that bought it and said it had been for sale for sometime.
The Mysterious Flight and Fighter Jets
It is not currently known from where in Lithuania the plane departed but it apparently had two people onboard. Again, according to this article, it appears that the aircraft may have flown at least 300 nautical miles over Poland before authorities first realized that something was up with this aircraft, as it entered Hungary.
At some point, it landed at Hajdúszoboszló airport in Hungary, probably for refueling. It is not known if they received fuel before or it was being done at this airport. They landed without permission and the police were called after an argument took place (with an airport employee). When the police were arriving, the pilot and passenger quickly started the plane and took off.
This is when Hungarian fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the aircraft. The airplane, according to the Bulgarian defense ministry, had no flight plan, deactivated transponders, and did not respond to radio or visual signals.
The Pilot Disappears
After exiting Hungary and entering Romanian airspace, two more fighter jets intercepted the plane and escorted it until it entered Bulgarian airspace. Bulgaria did not send fighter jets, claiming that they believed the plane “did not represent a threat at any time.” It landed in the northeast area of Buhovtsi, Bulgaria, at an unmanned airport, (airport code LBTG) and it was at this point that the pilot and passenger disappeared. When authorities arrived at the aircraft, they found the engine still warm and a tarp covering the plane.
The plane is believed to have flown over 7 different European countries – Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, and Bulgaria. It flew an estimated 800 nautical miles with no flight plan, no working transponder, and refusing to speak with anyone, even the fighter jets that had intercepted it.
What Happened to the Pilot?
As of right now, the authorities in Varna, Bulgaria have opened an investigation and are searching for the pilot and the passenger. It is not known what the point of the flight was, other than the fact that it appears that the destination always was Bulgaria.
Obviously, it was concerning to authorities to find an aircraft that was slipping in and out of European airspaces, especially given what is going on in Ukraine and Russia. Did this flight have something to do with that? That is unknown at this point. I will update if the investigation yields any information.
Feature image via Wikipedia