Rudolf Perešin (Jakšinec, Gornja Stubica, March 25th 1958 - 1995) is one of the most famous pilots of HRZ (Croatian Air Force). Posthumously he was awarded with the rank of staff brigadier.
In the last year of the primary school he decides to be a pilot. He successfully overcomes high medical and psychophysical criteria, and in 1977 he enrolls the Aeronautical military academy in Zadar. In 1981, among the best pilots, with above-average results, he finishes the Pilot Academy and gets the title of fighter pilots, the pilot gold wings and the first officer rank. In the same year, because of the high flight, health and psychophysical abilities, especially because of the high flying technique, precision and moderation in his actions, accented memory and power of observation, he joined the group of 19 pilots chosen for retraining for the supersonic aircraft MiG -21 and was later selected for the scout pilot. During the flight with MiG-s in Bihać he reached the expert and professional highlights of the pilot profession.
In 1990, as already denationalized JNA (Yugoslav National Army) prepared for aggression against Croatia, he has, like most pilots, refused to enter the political organization "SKJ-Movement for Yugoslavia", which was supposed to create a new ideological foundation for the survival of the centralized and unitary Yugoslavia under the dictate of Milošević’s Serbia.
Perešin decided, without a doubt, to leave the JNA with MiG and to join the defense of his homeland Croatia. Aware of the risk of the planned venture, because he was, like many Croats, under constant surveillance, he planned his escape to the last detail.
At the time of the first flight after a long pause, which was imposed by administrative bans on all Croats at the airport, Perešin should have monitored the withdrawal of the JNA from Slovenia. Over the planned route via Zagreb, Ljubljana, to Koper and back via Ljubljana he descended to the ground plane and flew into the airspace of Austria, around Bleiburg. Immediately after entering the Austrian airspace he extracted the landing gear and flew to the airport near Klagenfurt, where he successfully landed his unarmed aircraft. With this patriotic act he caused a serious moral and political impact to the aggressor army and its aviation, but to the citizens of Croatia the immeasurable honor, spite and growth of national consciousness in the most critical days of the Croatian War of Independence. It happened on the 25th October 1991, when the whole world, next to the photo of the Croatian pilot and the aircraft MiG-21 at the airport in Klagenfurt, transmitted his words: "I am a Croat, I cannot and I will not shoot at the Croats!". Four days later Perešin returned to Croatia where he joined the Croatian Air Force of the Croatian army.
Rudolf Perešin personally and his first hunting fleet, in all actions and operations of the Croatian Army, executed numerous combat missions and defended Zagreb and Croatian airspace. The same happened on the 2nd May 1995, on the second day of the action “Bljesak”: In the early morning hours, when his MiG, executing the combat duty near Stara Gradiška, was hit by the enemy anti-aircraft guns, and remained uncontrollable. The pilot, at an extremely low level (below 50 m) and in an uncertain slope leaves the aircraft by catapult, lands on the enemy's territory, while the aircraft, by the speed of inertia, gets transferred over Sava to the Croatian, through “Bljesak” liberated territory. The remains were returned on the 4th August 1997, and on the 15th September 1997 he was buried at the Mirogoj cemetery.
On the 24th June 2004 in Gornja Stubica the memorial park "Rudolf Perešin" was opened, where the statue of the pilot and the conserved MiG-21, which came out of the repair Institute in Velika Gorica, were placed.