Memorie.al publishes the unknown story of the pilot Azabi Serani, originally from the village of Corush in Mallakastra, who after graduating from the Military Aviation School “Valerij Pavlovic Chakallov”, in the city of Borisoglebsk in the former Soviet Union, returned to Albania and He was appointed Commander of the Second Squadron of the 23rd Regiment of Aviation (shooter-bomber) in the city of Kuçova, then called the “Stalin City”. The testimony of his brother, Kujtim Serani, and that of the former Commander of the Albanian Air Force, Colonel Edip Ohri, about Azbi’s excellent military career as a First Class Pilot and the tragic event that took his life in the great training of coded “Peza 72” in Belsh, Elbasan, where the plane exploded in the air after a defect due to Chinese-made shells. Which would then be interpreted as a “sabotage by Lin Biao”, the former Chinese defense minister whom Mao Zedong declared an enemy and burned his plane in the air as he was fleeing to Mongolia?
It was October 4, 1972, when during a large military exercise codenamed “Peza 72”, which took place in the area of Belsh of Elbasan under the presence of the highest authorities of the Albanian army, tragically lost a life by the most talented Air Force pilots, named Azbi Serani. Who was that pilot, what was his past and where was he educated? What were the circumstances of the death of the talented pilot Azbi Serani and how was that tragic death commented on by the official communist propaganda of that time?
In this regard, he tells exclusively for Memorie. al, Azbi’s brother, Kujtim Serani, as well as the testimonies of Colonel Edip Ohri, the former Commander of the Air Force, who was present at that exercise where the tragic accident that took the pilot’s life took place. which was considered one of the most prepared of the Albanian aviation.
In the “Skënderbej” school
Azbiu was born on March 1, 1940, in the village of Çorush in Mallakastra, where his family is well known throughout the province. Azbi’s father was called Ramadan and during the years of Zog’s Monarchy he had served as a gendarme in the province of Mallakastra. During the years of the Nazi-fascist occupation of Albania, Ramadan Seranaj became closely associated with the Anti-Fascist Movement and took an active part with weapons in hand as a partisan in the Mallakastra detachments. After the end of the war in 1944, he was promoted to officer and served in the People’s Police, in some districts of the country such as Mallakastër, Librazhd, Durrës, etc. Azbi Seranaj, who was also Ramazan’s first child, spent his childhood in his native village of Çorush in Mallakastra under the care of his mother Tatjana, as his father Ramadani was mostly away from his family (in the Librazhd district) by the Albanian soldiers of that time. Azbiu started the first grade of primary school in the city of Librazhd and then continued it in Durrës Beach, where his father was transferred. Regarding the beginning of Azbi’s studies in military schools, his brother Kujtimi testifies: At the end of that school, he was awarded the Gold Medal because during the four years he had received only the maximum grades and his name was written in the “Book of Honor” of the “Skënderbej” School. Azbiu was so excellent in his studies that when he was in the last year of the Military School “Skënderbej” (1956-1957) he became an exception and he was allowed to continue in parallel and the first year in the United High School. Officer “Enver Hoxha”, in the branch of Prapavija, which he also completed with maximum results “, recalls his brother, Kujtim Serani, regarding the period that Azbiu studied as a cadet at the Military School” Skënderbej “in Tirana.
In the Soviet Union for aviator
In the summer of 1957, the Ministry of People’s Defense decided that Azbi should go to study in the Soviet Union, which was a great wish of his father Ramadani, who had dreamed that his son would be a well-educated soldier. . In this regard, his brother, Kujtim, testified: “After the scholarship was awarded in August 1957, Azbiu began studying at the Valery Pavlovich Chkalov Military Aviation School in the Soviet Union’s Borisoglebsk. At that military school, Azbiu enrolled in the field of fighter jets, and during the three years he studied there, he was one of the most excellent students in that school, with hundreds of students not only from all over Eastern Europe but also from all over Europe. from other continents. Although Azbiu was a little thin, he made up for it with excellent physical training, which he had gained since Skanderbeg School, where in addition to the curriculum he had done individual training almost every day. During the three years that Azbiu studied in the Soviet Union, in addition to the curriculum he mastered, he also distinguished himself as a regular and disciplined trainee. In addition to theoretical preparation, Azbiu was particularly distinguished for mastering the elements of flight in practical exercises conducted at that school, is considered one of the most courageous and resilient trainees in difficult flight processes with fighter jets. which the Soviet Union had at the time. Borisoglebsky’s Valerij Pavlovic Chakallov Aviation School graduated in 1960, and in October of that year he graduated as a “Hunting Pilot, Technician” with excellent results, “recalls Kujtim Serani, referring to his brother’s education. of his Azbi, in the former Soviet Union.
Deputy Commissioner Regiment in Kuçova
After completing his studies at the Aviation School in the Soviet Union, Azbi Serani returned to Albania and was immediately appointed Commander of the Second Squadron of the 23rd Regiment of Aviation (shooter-bomber) in the city of Kuçova, which at that time it was called “Stalin City”. Azbi’s former comrades who served with him at the Aviation Regiment say that from the beginning of his tenure, he devoted himself to maximum mobilization, and that caught the eye of the command, which often thanked him and he set an example before all the staff for the results he had achieved during training. Based on that high preparation of Azbi in the theoretical plan and also during the flights, where he was distinguished as a commander, in September 1961, the Regiment Command appointed him as a “quadruple commander”. The new assignment assigned to Azbi further added to his responsibility to his colleagues and subordinates. At that time he also started training with the flights that took place at night and in difficult meteorological conditions. In this regard, his brother Kujtimi testifies: “During that period, Azbiu took part in several large combat training exercises, which were conducted by the General Staff of the Army, such as those codenamed” Drini “. , in 1961, “Dumreja” in 1962 and “Gramozi” in 1963. After those combat drills where Azbiu was distinguished for a high professional training, in 1962-’63, he was assigned the task of I an instructor for the preparation of young cadets pilots studying at the Kuçova Aviation School. His former colleagues told me that during that time he demonstrated excellent skills as a lecturer and methodologist and had excellent relations with his trainees. In 1964, Azbiu was appointed deputy commander of the squadron, and two years later in 1966, he was appointed deputy commissioner of the Kuçova Regiment Air Group. Even in those tasks, he showed high preparation and especially in the directions of fighter-bomber planes, in all the exercises that took place at that time “, remembers his brother Kujtimi, for the beginnings of Azbi’s military career in the Kuçova Aviation Regiment.
“Peza 72”, Seran’s fatal training
After all the military exercises that Azbi Serani took part in as a pilot with his Mig-19 fighter-bomber in October 1972, he was tasked with leading a four-man squadron to take part in a training exercise. large coded “Peza 72”, which would take place in the area of Belsh of Elbasan. Shortly before that exercise, Azbiu was scheduled to travel with 25 other pilots for a one-year specialization in the People’s Republic of China, but he refused to go and begged his superiors to replace him. another pilot, as he had a very ill wife and had to take care of her. His request was approved and Azbiu stayed in Albania, where he participated in that training which would be fatal and the last for the talented pilot originally from Çorushi of Mallakastra. In this regard, his brother, Kujtimi, testified: “The training of the Albanian army that would be carried out at that time, was considered very special and was given great importance for the period and the political conjunctures that Albania was going through. at the time, after the first rifts in relations with China had begun, following a visit to the communist country by US President Richard Nixon himself. As a result of the situation that Albania was going through, to take part in that great military exercise codenamed “Peza 72”, which would demonstrate the strength of the Albanian army, there is the area of Belsh where it would be carried out, they had Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu himself, Defense Minister Beqir Balluku, Chief of General Staff Petrit Dume, and a large number of senior Defense Ministry military personnel went to follow him closely. At around 9.30 in the morning, according to the pre-arranged training plan, my brother Azbiu got on his plane “Mig 19 from Kuçova airport together with the other pilots of the group he commanded: Hamza Koçi, Harrilla Rebi, and Pandeli Liquid. The four pilots with their fighter jets in a few minutes reached the area of Belsh where the training took place and with bombs and teaching missiles hit the targets that were marked in the form of a circle on the ground. After that shot that they achieved with complete success, Azbiu flew back to that place to shoot at the target with 25 mm cannon shells. which had been installed onboard that fighter jet he was driving. But the moment he landed on the pier very close to the ground and fired the first shells in the direction of the target, the plane exploded in the air, turning into a fiery mess. From that explosion, the pilot’s mistake was detached from the body of the plane, which was torn to pieces and ended up on the ground “, Kujtim Serani recalls with tears in his eyes, the fatal moment that took the life of his brother Azbi.
The flaw that took Seran’s life
But what happened to the plane of the pilot Azbi Serani, who was considered one of the most prepared aviators that the Albanian army had at that time? Regarding this, the former commander of the Albanian Aviation at that time, Colonel Edip Ohri, who was present at that tragic event, told us: “The fatal accident that took the life of the talented pilot Azbi Serani at that time, came as a result of a defect that occurred to his aircraft from Chinese-made shells in the 25 mm cannon. If in many other tragic events where many of our talented pilots lost their lives, they took with them the truth of the defect that caused their death, in the case of Azbi Serani, this did not happen and the truth was fully revealed. Those shells with which Azbiu would shoot were out of standard and exploded without coming out of the cannonball, destroying it and the plane itself that was covered in flames. A few days after that training I had a visit to the People’s Republic of China and during that visit I had taken with me the muzzle of the destroyed cannon and some shells from the ones that Azbiu had fired. The Chinese, after conducting the expertise of the cannon and shells I was given, told us that they had been defective since their production and as a result of that defect had come the explosion of the cannon and the entire aircraft that caused Azbi Seran’s death. After that, the senior Chinese military ordered us to block all that shell party they had sent us as they turned out to be outside the allowed standards. We did that and they came and took those shells from us and brought us other shells, with which the Albanian aviation no longer had problems of that nature “, recalls the retired colonel, Edip Ohri, former Commander-in-Chief of Aviation Albanian fighter, in connection with the tragic death of the talented pilot Azbi Serani in October 1972, during the great exercise codenamed “Peza 72”.
Propaganda: “Sabotage of Lin Biaos”
After the tragic death of First Class Pilot Azbi Serani, by order of Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu, he was given a special funeral ceremony with all honors, starting with the Army Spiritual Band and the firing of automatic weapons by the team. Fusilier. The coffin with his body was placed in the public cemetery of Sharra, in the special plot where at that time the body of the famous pilot, Niko Hoxha, rested, who, like Azbiu, had lost his life in a tragic accident with his plane in Rinas airport. Also at Azbi Seran’s house at the time were condolences from Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu, Defense Minister Beqir Balluku, Chief of General Staff Petrit Dume and many other senior soldiers. While Seran was being treated with respect at the time, communist propaganda interpreted the tragedy as a sabotage by Lin Biao, the defense minister of the People’s Republic of China, who at the time, Mao Zedong and declared him an enemy and physically eliminated him, hitting his plane in the air, on the pretext that he had wanted to escape to Mongolia./Memorie.al