A MYSTERIOUS plane that circled six NATO countries before being abandoned was sold to a Russian-speaking man a week before the bizarre flight.
The suspect six-seater was spotted by the Hungarian and Romanian Air Forces as they flew through their airspace and over Poland, Slovakia and Serbia before landing in Bulgaria.
Fighter jets were dispatched to intercept the low-flying and slow-moving plane as it wreaked havoc.
And it has now emerged that the plane was sold to a “Russian-speaking man” just a week before the mysterious flight.
Bronius Zaromskis, the director of Nida Airfield in Lithuania, announced that he sold it to the unidentified man, LRT reports.
Three men came to inspect the plane – one of them spoke Russian.
“I can’t guess which country they came from. It could be Ukrainians, maybe Romanians or Bulgarians,” he said.
“I spoke to one of them in Russian. But I don’t know the names of any of these men.”
And the Russian connection further deepens the mystery surrounding the plane, especially amid tensions in Eastern Europe over the war in Ukraine.
Mr Zaromskis added: “I’ve been trying to sell this plane for years, I didn’t have space to store it so I’m glad someone bought it.”
The aircraft, now identified as the Piper PA-23-250 Aztec twin-engined light aircraft, was grounded in Bulgaria.
According to the media company Euractiv, it is said to have taken off from Lithuania and landed at an abandoned airfield in Targovishte.
The plane was originally misidentified as a Beechcraft and is believed to have sold for around €30,000 (£25,000).
Flying over Lithuania it never flew over Poland and Slovakia before stopping in Hungary for refueling and then continuing over Romania, Serbia and ending in Bulgaria.
Each of these countries except Serbia is a NATO member.
Air traffic control company Oro Navig said it had no data on the flight – even though it took off from Lithuania.
The plane also did not take off from any of the main airports, Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga – and is believed to have departed via a small runway.
Hungarian media reports that when the plane landed at Hajdúszoboszló Airport to refuel, it landed without permission.
The pilot is said to have threatened an airport employee, who then called the police.
Police officers arrived and the plane took off at “full throttle”, violating flight rules, Rtl.hu reports.
Fighter jets, including USAF F-16s, two Romanian F-16s and two Hungarian Gripens, became jumbled and tracked the 60-year-old plane’s journey after it failed to respond to radio transmissions.
Bulgarian authorities have reportedly launched an investigation into what happened after the pilot and crew disappeared after landing at Targovishte Airport while the plane’s engine was still warm.
Bulgarian Defense Ministry official Dragomir Zakov said the plane entered his country’s airspace on the evening of June 8.
He is said to have said: “The aircraft was never a threat to civil or military infrastructure in Bulgaria.
“It flew at low altitudes, which made it difficult for fighter jets to intercept, but it was monitored at all times.
“The Department of Defense is taking the appropriate steps to determine the circumstances.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5597585/mystery-plane-six-nato-nations-russian/ Mysterious ‘ghost plane’ buzzing around six NATO countries had been sold to ‘RUSSIAN-speaking man’ before bizarre flight