The last owner of the runaway plane: I sold it on Saturday to a Sofia-based company. Buyers were perhaps Romanians or Ukrainians

Krasimir Krumov 10 юни 2022 в 15:23 2631 0

The six-seater Piper aircraft, which on Wednesday put the air defences of six NATO countries on the alert and also flew over part of Serbia, was sold to a company, most likely based in Sofia, just days earlier - on Saturday. The last official owner of the 60-year-old Piper PA-23-250 Aztec, Bronis Zaronskis, spoke to about the sale. We found him at his home in Lithuania.

The 72-year-old man is an ace of the Lithuanian aviation, graduated from the Moscow Aviation School, was a squadron commander in Panevėžys, and after leaving the army was the president of the local aviation sports club. During the events in Vilnius in 1991 he organized the rescue of the club's aviation equipment from the Soviet army and participated in the resistance of Lithuanians against the Soviet army by carrying out, together with young people from the club and citizens of Panežys, radio frequency tapping and the movement of Soviet forces in the area. He is now in the transport business. He can be seen wearing a military uniform with many decorations and three stars, he is addressed as an Air Force Captain.

Good morning, Captain. I'm calling from Bulgaria, you can probably guess why. Directly to the question: how did your plane, the one from your avatar, the tiny Piper, suddenly happened to be in Bulgaria after a spectacular flight across Eastern Europe, over the skies of six NATO countries and Serbia?

How should I know? They bought it from me... people. Where they flew, I don't know.

When did this happen? When did they buy it?

They bought it... was it on Saturday?

Now, this past Saturday?

Yes, yes.

And who are the buyers? What kind of people?

Well, I don't know, I don't think they were Bulgarians. Maybe from Romania or Ukraine.

Any names?

I don't know, I don't know.

And did you hear then what happened to your plane after the sale?

Yeah, yeah. I heard.

How is it possible? I checked the plane, it was manufactured in 1962, it's 60 years old. But more importantly, from what I saw in the records, it's de-registered as an aircraft, it shouldn't actually be flying.


Well it has been de-listed from the aircraft list despite having a registration number on the hull.

Yes, I had requested that it be deregistered. To cross it out. But as far as it was mortgaged to a bank as collateral on a loan, once a long time ago, now I went to the bank, they gave me a reference to take off the mortgage, I went to a notary, but there are big queues, there is a long wait, now I'm waiting for my mortgage to be taken off. Now after 20th June they will take it off the mortgage.

But see, without registration, could it fly at all? Was it allowed to?

Well, it had the right to fly, only it had to get its registration reinstated, get permission from the Civil Aviation Administration.

What is the name of the person who bought it from you?

Well, I don't know. They took it on behalf of a company.

Do you remember the name of the company?

I don't remember now, I have to look, there are documents, but they are not with me at the moment. I think it said it was from Sofia. Contract, everything is there, handover protocol. Everything is legally formalised.

Has anyone searched for you so far from Bulgaria? Our authorities?


The police?

No, no. They say such things here... It's not a crime. So what? Flew over - flew over. They flew, I think, quite well, only they didn't have, they didn't get a flight plan, permission.

Was the plane airworthy?

It was.

Could it fly?

It was checked.

I know you are an experienced pilot, an ace of aviation, you were a squadron commander. Explain to me, a civilian, how is it possible for them, now - in military conditions, to take off from Lithuania, go through Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, the skies of Bulgaria, all these NATO countries plus Serbia, and NATO does nothing?

And NATO shouldn't do anything. They see a civilian plane flying, a small plane. It's more of a problem of bureaucracy. To shape (documentarily) the flight. If they had to wait to take a layout, a month won't be enough.

The strange thing here is that they abandoned the plane. They abandoned it and fled.

I don't know why they landed there and what happened. Something may have happened. I wouldn't say they ditched it. They landed normally, they put on the dash afterwards, the case, they did everything right. And what should they do, sit next to the plane? They've gone somewhere. On business probably.

Remember what these people looked like, how old were they?

I don't know exactly which one of them, but he was in his, what, 50s or so.

Was he an aviator?

Well, of course, what else...

I mean did you talk about flights, about experience?

Yeah, we talked a little bit, they said he's flown one of these planes before. Or had. I don't know exactly.

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