If you have found yourself unable to stop scrolling for updates about the situation in Ukraine, you have probably come across a pilot known as the "Ghost of Kyiv" by now.
Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, social media has been circulating footage and stories of a pilot that shot down six planes in a single day, above the capital Kyiv. Ukraine, the country, even tweeted from their official account that the MiG-29 fighter pilot was causing huge problems for Russian forces.
In the accompanying video, they explain that "Ukraine probably got its first ace since World War II", before ending by wishing the pilot "happy hunting".
"In the first 30 hours of the Russian invasion in February 2022 he shot down six Russian military aircraft. As of February 26 – 10 military planes of the occupiers," the video continues. "To become an ace pilot, you need to shoot down five planes. And the Ghost of Kyiv shot twice as many."
However, in the same video, Ukraine suggested that the pilot's feats are unconfirmed.
"Although it is still unknown who is piloting the Ukrainian MiG-29 plane and whether he is responsible for the 10 downed Russian planes, Ukrainians are grateful to this hero with brass balls, who’s having Russian aircraft for breakfast."
As cool as the idea is of a flying ace taking out an invading force is, there are reasons to be skeptical of the Ghost of Kyiv.
- 1. The propaganda of having an ace pilot taking out so many enemy aircraft seems a tad too good to be true.
- 2. Several experts in warfare have expressed doubt that such feats are possible on modern battlefields.
- 3. Some of the footage of the ace is from the battlefield videogame Digital Combat Simulator.
The video, according to Snopes, was first posted on YouTube by the user “Comrade_Corb". Here, it was identified as a tribute to the Ghost of Kyiv, created in a simulation. It later moved to other social media platforms, where the fact it wasn't real was omitted by several users and gained viral attention.
No confirmed footage (so far) has shown the ghost performing the rumored feats, causing some to suggest that he is likely to be an urban legend, albeit one that is useful in terms of propaganda to Ukraine. Task and Purpose point out that Russian losses were about 10 aircraft in the first two days. Considering that Ukraine has ground-to-air defenses and 98 aircraft in its fleet, it's unlikely (though not impossible, if you would prefer to dream) that the ace took down six aircraft in one day.
Nevertheless, there are several people out there who have claimed to have identified the "Ghost" pilot, one of which comes from the former president of Ukraine.
"In the photo – the MiG-29 pilot. The same "Ghost of Kiev". He terrifies enemies and prides Ukrainians," Ex-president Petro Poroshenko tweeted. "He has six victories over Russian pilots! With such powerful defenders, Ukraine will definitely win!"