|Born||March 13, 1911|
|Died||October 8, 1948|
|Place of birth||Kopriva on Karst, Austro-Hungary now Slovenia|
|Place of death||Snežnik plateau, Yugoslavia now Slovenia|
Kingdom of Italy|
Second Spanish Republic
Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
|Years of service||1930–1948|
|Awards||Order for courageusness|
Josip Križaj (13 March 1911 – October 8, 1948), also known in the Italianized form as Giuseppe Krizai, nicknamed "Pepi", was a Slovene military pilot and a veteran of the Spanish Civil War.
Križaj was born in Kopriva on the Karst plateau, then part of the Austro-Hungarian county of Gorizia and Gradisca. After World War I, the region became part of the Kingdom of Italy and Križaj became an Italian citizen. Already at a young age he showed a passion for flight, which led him to pursue a pilot course in the Royal officer school in Capua near Naples, Italy.
Due to his Slovene ethnic origins, he was not allowed into the regular Italian Royal Air Force, but he was nevertheless granted a place in reserve composition. Because of the physical hardships endured during the training and his pro-Slovenian and pro-Yugoslav national political stance, he flew with Fiat AS.1 airplane on 25 June 1932 from Gorizia to Ljubljana, crossing the border of Yugoslavia, which led to much media interest. In 1934, he became a Yugoslav citizen. Following the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, he joined the Yugoslav volunteers who went fighting on the side of the Spanish Republic. He was a member of the Squadron España, shot down once and captured during the war. After his return to Yugoslavia, he moved to Serbia, where he lived during World War II.
After the war, he became a SFR Yugoslav Air Force military pilot. His life ended on 8 October 1948, when his plane Yakovlev Yak-3 crashed into the Snežnik Mountain in south-western Slovenia, because of poor visibility in dense fog.
Today, the Ajdovščina Flying Club is named after Josip Križaj, and there is a monument to him located on Portorož Airport.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Josip Križaj.|
- Kladnik, Darinka: »Zgodovina letalstva na Slovenskem« Ljubljana, 2008 COBISS 242534912 ISBN 978-961-91035-6-2
- Emiliani, Angelo: Italiani Nell'Aviazione Repubblicana Spagnola, Edizioni Aeronautiche Italiane S.r.l., 1980.
- Matyáš, Svatopluk: Stíhačky nad Španělskem 1936 - 1939, Svět křídel, Cheb 1998.
- Polák, T.: Esa meziválečného období - Part II, in Plastic Kits revue, No. 44, 1995.
- Žirochov, Michail: «Krasnyj» italjanec, Aviacija i vremja, No. 2, 2003.
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