FRESNO AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Calif. --
A Ukrainian Su-27UB aircraft carrying a U.S. service member and a Ukrainian service member crashed during a routine familiarization training flight Oct. 16, killing both pilots.
The incident occurred in the Khmelnytskyi region of western Ukraine, approximately 175 miles southwest of Kyiv, the capitol of Ukraine.
The U. S. Air Force pilot was Lt. Col. Seth "Jethro" Nehring, a fighter pilot with the California Air National Guard’s 194th Fighter Squadron, part of the 144th Fighter Wing based in Fresno, Calif. The Ukrainian pilot was Col. Ivan Petrenko, Deputy Commander of the East Air, Chief of Aviation from Ozern Air Base, Zhytomer, Ukraine.
"We are a close-knit family and when a tragedy like this occurs, every member of the 144th Fighter Wing feels it," said U.S. Air Force Col. Daniel Kelly, commander of the 144th FW. "We share in the sorrow felt by Jethro’s loved ones and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends as well as those of the Ukrainian aviator."
Nehring has been a member of the 144th family for more than 20 years. He began his career here as an enlisted crew chief before being selected for a pilot slot and flew the F-16 Viper for more than 15 years and converted to the F-15 Eagle.
Nehring was deployed to Ukraine as part of the Clear Sky 2018 training exercise, where he was serving as the operations officer in the joint operations center. He was handpicked for this position due to his more than 20-year career as a pilot flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-15 Eagle aircraft.
Clear Sky 2018 is a joint and multi-national exercise that involves approximately 950 personnel from nine nations, including Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of collaboration between the California Air Guard and Ukraine as part of the U.S. Department of Defense State Partnership Program. This program has been successfully building relationships with our partners and allies in over 75 nations around the globe.
The U.S. and Ukrainian governments are conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the accident. More information will be released as it becomes available.
For additional questions, contact the 144th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office, at 559-454-5246 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.