The Ukrainian fighter pilot, famously known as the “Ghost of Kyiv,” has again hit the headlines, this time with a piece of unfortunate but not unexpected news. The Ukrainian Air Force has now officially declared that the Ghost is not a real person, and instead represents Ukrainian pilots as a whole. Just days earlier, the Times of London published a report stating that they had learned the identity of the pilot called the Ghost of Kyiv for his flying heroics against the Russian invaders. The Ghost had become a source of motivation for the Ukrainian people during the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and according to the report, his aircraft, a MiG 29, was knocked down by the Russian forces on March 13, causing the demise of the Ghost of Kyiv. He was identified as “Major Stephen Tarabalka,” aged 29. He was initially attributed with taking down 5 Russian jets, and the number later rose to as high as 49.
The since-updated report gave further details about the pilot as well, including an interview with his family.
2 days after the report was published, the Ukrainian Air Force posted a tweet stating that the information about the death of the Ghost was incorrect, and that it “embodies the collective spirit of the highly qualified pilots of the Tactical Aviation Brigade who are successfully defending #Kyiv and the region”.
The Ukrainian Air Force said on Telegram that while Major Tarabalka was a “hero,” he is not the Ghost of Kyiv and did not shoot down 40 Russian aircraft as it has been claimed.
“The ghost of Kyiv is a superhero-legend whose figure was created by Ukrainians!” they said.
The term came into existence shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine started at the end of February and quickly gained traction in the coming weeks, with varying reports about the daring heroics of the ace pilot. These reports were further supported by Ukrainian officials who posted tweets and even pictures of the pilot.
While it was a generally-accepted fact that the Ghost of Kyiv is not a human being and is instead a concept to raise morale among the Ukrainian people, the latest happenings have all but concluded the urban legend.