The Nighthawk Pilot Who Befriended His Enemy
Wikimedia / NARA
An Unlikely Friendship
On March 27th, 1999, Dale Zelko’s F-117 Nighthawk was shot down in Serbian territory. Years passed, and he had no idea that he would become a close friend of Zoltan Dani, the Serbian man who shot him down that fateful day.
During Operation Allied Force, the Nighthawk was virtually invisible to Serbian defenses, carrying air strikes across Yugoslavia. However, on the night that Zelko was shot down, bad weather meant that he would be flying blindly without the EA-6B Prowlers, giving the Serbians the opening they needed.
After he deployed his bombs, Zelko saw two surface-to-air missiles coming right at him. Although the first one missed him, the second exploded right next to him. The next thing he knew, he was bailing out at enemy territory, hiding for eight hours, before being rescued.
Years later, the Serbian man who nearly killed him saw him on a documentary and reached out to him. Today, the former enemies are now good friends.