Well-known Ukrainian pilot Valeriy ‘Juice’ Novikov was one of three people killed in a plane crash in West Virginia on Thursday. Novikov, 53, was piloting a single-engine Cessna 206 on a skydiving trip near the town of Point Pleasant when the plane crashed shortly after takeoff. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating the cause of the crash.
Novikov had been piloting fixed-wing aircraft for Ukraine’s air force before relocating to the United States and taking up private aviation full-time. He had also been flying skydiving jumpers for years, and was known among the skydiving community for his daring flights and laid-back demeanor.
The two other victims in the crash were identified by the Mason County Sheriff’s Office as skydiving instructors Michael Henschell, 56, and Jordan Pierson, 27.
Novikov was remembered by friends and family as an adventurous spirit who was an experienced and passionate pilot.
“He loved the freedom of flight,” his brother, Volodymyr Novikov, said in a statement. “He could make complex maneuvers that seemed almost impossible.”