MOSCOW, August 16 (RIA Novosti) - One of three pilots rehearsing a flight of two Su-27 fighters ahead of MAKS-2009 air show was killed as the military aircraft collided southeast of Moscow on Sunday, a Defense Ministry source said.
The pilot has been identified as Igor Tkachenko, commander of Russia's famous aerobatic team, Russkiye Vityazi.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed his condolences to Tkachenko's family.
Russian Air Force commander, Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin, has left for the scene.
Prosecutors from the Moscow Military District have already launched a probe into the crash.
The accident may have been caused by a flying skill error, according to a Defense Ministry source.
One of the two surviving pilots has been hospitalized with spinal fracture, the police said. No information is so far available on the condition of the third pilot.
A local police spokesman also said five civilians had been hospitalized with injuries as the jets crashed into adjacent summer cottages.
The accident will not delay the MAKS-2009 show slated for August 18, the organizer said on Sunday.
"The MAKS [air show] will not be postponed. Although there may be changes to the program of flights, all aerobatic teams - three Russian and two foreign ones - will perform," said Vladimir Borisov, general director of the Aviasalon firm.
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We have witnessed the total defeat of western Ukraine, Western nationalists and the West in general, which made the unfortunate decision to support the anti-government activity. They failed to realize that the collapse of Yanukovych means the collapse of Ukrainian unity. They set fire to their own home and planted a time bomb under Ukraine’s territorial integrity.