I contacted a special man, who was in the ATO Headquarters and was responsible for such situations, and informed him about my coordinates. Thanks to that man I managed to leave the occupied territory.
He went to meet me and for that joined a column pretending to be a doctor. He tried to assess the situation and to identify the best way to get me out. It happened that he could not meet me, so I had to get out by myself.
I had to go through Starobeshevo. I was in the nothern part of the settlement and had to go to the south in the direction of Marhiupol. This man identified the location of checkpoints anf coordinated me by phone. The most surprising thing was that on my way I met only dogs who accompanied me. There were no terrorists. I met them only when I was in the south of Starobeshevo. But at that moment I was in civilian clothes which I found in an abandoned house.
I had no choice, so I came up to the checkpoint. The militants saw me from afar. They asked,”Stop! Who goes?” and directed their automatic machine gun at me.They saw that I had a bad arm. I was calm, and stopped, and answered that I was a local. I was born in Luhansk that is why I have Russian accent. I said that I was going to Razdolne, which was in 15 kilometres (thanks God I knew the map), to my relatives. They did not think it over for a long time and let me go.
I may have walked 10 kilometres from the settlement when I met our (Ukrainian) medical column. I was x-rayed in a field hospital in the Zaporizhzha region, they put the bone into joint again and set a plaster cut on my arm. Then I got to the Headquarters, told the commanders the information I knew about the enemy forces and their location; after that I was directed to the airdrome based in Mykolayiv.
From August 29, Su-25 planes stopped performing combat missions: Russia equipped the occupied territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions with a lot of antiaircraft means. So there is no sense to perform missions on our planes. It is like a one-way ticket. Fly, perform the mission, and stay there for ever.
“There are no pilots who fearlessly get on a plane and fly to perform the mission. They all are scared. But they are scared until the time they get on a plane. Then they come down and think reasonably”. Photo by Yliy Kudlanik.
When you perform the task and press the combat button, togethter with shells or bombs, thermal traps are released just in case missiles have been launched at you from the land. Today all combat planes or helicopters are equipped with them, even military transportation ones too. However, when I was shot down, there were not enough thermal traps to cause the missile guidance crash. I did not even know what part of the plane was damaged, but the hit was so powerful, that I was thrown to the dashboard. Then I returned to the armchair. The plane started spinning, and I tried to stop that and control the plane, but it did not react. So, I had to catapult.
I was lucky that there were ravines in the place, and I catapulted into a ravine. It saved me.
It took me four days to get out.
Aviation was widely used during the year, for example, during the liberation of Slovyansk. Nobody can say for sure how much stuff and staff we eliminated, but a lot.
It was not scary there, it was interesting as it was a new situation which I had not been in before. I had a chance to check my ability to survive in such conditions. There are no pilots who fearlessly get on a plane and fly to perform the mission. They all are scared. But they are scared just until the time they get on a plane. Then they come down and think reasonably.
The quality of our training is quite high. At present, there are no cutting edge innovations on the planes we fly on. The only thing which was improved is more powerful thermal trap dropping equipment. So, the planes are practically the same as they were a year ago. Now we started getting modernized and restored equipment which had been conserned and stored. Now we have such planes, but even the old planes are not bad and quite suitable for performing combat tasks. There only problem is that there is no sense to use a plane for one flight.
Halina Tytysh, The Ukrainian Truth
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