July 4th 1989 Colonel Nikolai Skuridin departed Bagicz airbase located near Kolobrzeg Poland on a MiG-23M, an aircraft simply known to the West as "The Flogger" a nuclear capable variable-geometry single engine Soviet 3rd generation Fighter. During take off for a routine training mission, Col Skuridin's afterburner suffered an unknown malfunction, causing an immediate partial loss of power. At an approximate altitude of 500 ft, as the MiG-23 began losing altitude, Colonel Nikolai Skuridin elected to abandon his fighter aircraft and initiated the ejection sequence.
The ejection seat and deployment of the parachute performed flawlessly, as did the MiG-23, which was still producing enough thrust allowing it to remain airborne as it rapidly departed the “accident scene” climbing and accelerating on a westbound heading, now fully under the control of the autopilot.
The ghost Soviet MiG-23 continued westbound until it departed Polish airspace, crossing the East German border, then West Germany where two F-15 Eagles of the 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron intercepted the invading Soviet MiG. As the F-15 Eagles moved in closer to the foreign fighter, they discovered to their surprise that there was no pilot on board, and the military jet was in fact unmanned.
The unmanned MiG-23 Flogger continued westbound, crossing into Dutch airspace, then into Belgium, at which time the escorting F-15s were instructed to shoot down the MiG as it crossed over the North Sea.
As the F-15s prepared to down the aircraft once clear of the populated coastline, the engine on board the MiG failed due to fuel starvation, and it commenced a slow turning decent to the South, scrambling the French Air Force. In a sad twist of fate, the MiG-23, with its tanks now dry, impacted a house a few miles from the French border, in a rural area near Kortrijk Belgium, killing an 18 year old resident.
During the long 560 mile cross continent solo flight of the unmanned Soviet MiG-23, no warning or advisory of any sort in regards to the pilotless fighter jet, was issued by the Soviet Air Force, nor the Soviet government to any of its unsuspecting European neighbours.