Croatia fighter jet crashes, pilot ejects
ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — A Croatian military fighter jet crashed near the capital Tuesday and its pilot ejected without injury, the defense ministry said.
The MIG-21 had earlier taken part in a flyover during celebrations by Croatian officials marking the 19th anniversary of the offensive that liberated its Serb-held territories in the war of independence.
The fighter crashed about 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Zagreb, near the capital’s main commercial and military airport, with some of its parts landing in populated areas. The defense ministry said the pilot was taken to a hospital for checkups.
“When I was about to land, I felt the plane was completely uncontrollable,” the pilot, Stanko Hrzenak, said at a press conference held at the airport after the crash. “My main concern was to evade houses.”
The ministry says that according to initial information the jet’s hydraulics failed after the engine and the landing gear caught fire.
Most of Croatia’s aging 12 MIGs have recently undergone an overhaul in Ukraine, but the one that crashed Tuesday wasn’t among them.
Croatia has been a NATO member since 2009.