Military Aviation

‘The Ghost of Kyiv was not killed in action on Mar. 13 because it does not exist. Stop spreading fake news,’ Ukrainian Air Force says

As we have previously reported, the Ghost of Kyiv is nothing more than an urban legend, a claim that is now confirmed also by a statement of the Ukrainian Air Force.

Ukrainian sources have confirmed to The Times that the legendary ‘Ghost of Kyiv’, the famed fighter pilot who shot down more than 40 Russian aircraft allegedly died in battle last month.

According to The Times, Major Stepan Tarabalka, aka the Ghost of Kyiv, 29, a father of one, was shot down on Mar. 13 while he was flying a MiG-29 battling ‘overwhelming’ enemy forces.

However, as we have previously reported, the Ghost of Kyiv is nothing more than an urban legend, a claim that is now confirmed also by a statement of the Ukrainian Air Force (UAF) available to read on

In response to the spread of fake information the service said that Tarabalka is not the legendary Ghost of Kyiv and did not shoot down 40 planes.

“The ghost of Kyiv is a superhero-legend whose figure was created by Ukrainians! It is rather a collective image of the pilots of the 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade of the Air Force, which protects the capital’s sky [than a person] and suddenly appear where they are not expected, ” the statement of the UAF reads.

The Ghost of Kyiv quickly gained worldwide fame after allegedly shooting down six Russian aircraft on the first day of the invasion.

In fact according to the social media rumors, the Ukrainian Air Force Fulcrum flown by the Ghost of Kyiv, allegedly shot down 2x Su-35s, 1x Su-27, 1x MiG-29M, and 2x Su-25s on Feb. 24.

Major Stepan Tarabalka, 29, a father of one, was flying a MiG-29 when it was allegedly shot down on Mar. 13 battling ‘overwhelming’ enemy forces

As reported by Daily Mail, after his initial success, the Ukrainian government said: ‘People call him the Ghost of Kyiv. And rightly so — this UAF [Ukrainian Air Force] ace dominates the skies over our capital and country, and has already become a nightmare for invading Russian aircraft.’

But speculation grew that the ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ and his astonishing kill count was a myth manufactured by the Ukrainian government to inspire bravery in the ranks of their defiant fighters.

In fact, at midday on Feb. 25, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence shared an image of a MiG-29. It tweeted “Dozens of experienced military pilots from the captain to the general, who had previously been discharged from the reserve, are returning to the Air Force of the Armed Forces. Who knows, maybe one of them is the air avenger on the MiG-29, which is so often seen by Kyivites!”

As a matter of fact, the tweet appeared to be an attempt at boosting public morale rather than confirming the existence of a mystery ace.

The Ukrainian Air Force also denied other rumors.

“Military pilots are not yet studying abroad [to fly] on the F-16, no matter how much we all want it. No official statement in this regard was published in the media, ” the military said, adding that “American bombers do not fly over Ukraine either. ”

The Air Force Command urged citizens not to disseminate unverified information of a military nature.

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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