We start our every day with plans in our heads and think that those plans will happen unless, of course, something unexpected comes along the way. Maybe a minor hassle, probably a delay, or your boss suddenly asking you to render overtime, in turn making you miss your anniversary dinner. Those kinds of things. Would you ever expect a pilotless fighter jet to take off about a thousand kilometers and then come crashing on your roof in the middle of a farm? Pretty wild, if you’re going to think about it, but that’s exactly what happened on July 4, 1989.

Started as an Ordinary Day

Colonel Nikolai Skuridin started his day early. He was an experienced pilot of the Soviet Air Force and had just returned from a vacation. That day, he was to perform a test flight over Poland, which was their ally at that time. He started his MiG-23 fighter aircraft from the Bagicz Airbase near Kolobrzeg, ready for the test flight.

Some 1,000 kilometers away in Western Belgium, 19-year-old Wim Delaere was also looking forward to an ordinary day on their farm. Unbeknownst to him, it was going to be his last day.

Meanwhile, in Soesterberg, Netherlands, American pilots JD Martin and Bill Murphy of the 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, also called the “Wolfhounds,” were celebrating Independence Day for the Americans. Little did they know about what was to come their way.