Pilot Stanko Hrženjak (middle) successfully managed to eject himself from the falling jet fighter from a height of around 200 metres after landing gear failure saw the plane catch on fire before its scheduled landing in Zagreb. Hrženjak, who was returning from an air show in Knin for Victory Day celebrations, escaped with just a few bruises and said his main focus was that the plane would not crash into any houses in the area. Hrženjak said that he circled above the suburb of Velika Gorica in order to spend more fuel when noticed that the plane was about to catch fire, before steering it to an uninhabited area.
“During the flight the basic hydraulic devices failed. After that, I still managed to get the landing gear working but then the auxiliary hydraulic system also failed and that is when I tried to land and avoid settlements around Velika Gorica. As I was landing there was an explosion in the engine and smoke appeared in the cabin. The control panel signaled that there was a fire. That was when I was at a height of 500 meters and was flying at a speed of 400 kilometers per hour. I catapulted myself about 20 to 30 meters from the plane. First I looked at where my plane was to keep it from falling onto houses,” Hrženjak told a press conference after the ordeal.