Ghost of Kyiv: unconfirmed Ukrainian MiG-29 pilot credited with six kills
Twitter and social media have been hailing the exploits of an unknown Ukrainian Fulcrum pilot who has allegedly shot down six Russian planes.
The Ghost of Kyiv. The evocative name is trending on Twitter and other social media sites, and refers to a Ukrainian MIG-29 pilot who allegedly shot down six Russian jets in the first day of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
According to one, much-shared post, the Ghost of Kyiv has downed two SU-35s, one SU-27, one MIG-29 and two SU-25s.
Under generally recognised air warfare naming conventions any pilot who manages five 'kills' (destroying or downing an enemy plane) is recognised as an 'Ace'. With six kills in one day the Ghost of Kyiv would therefore be an Ace after just one day of combat. (There has always been something rather terrifying of chalking up kills in this manner, as if it were just sport, merely scoring goals against an opposition, rather than the truth of the opposing pilot being burnt to death in an airborne fireball, or perishing as their stricken craft smashes into the ground).
Is the Ghost of Kyiv real?
So far, there has been no confirmation that the Ghost of Kyiv truly exists, although former president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, tweeted a photo of what he said was the pilot on Friday. What we do know is that the Ukrainian defence forces have said seven Russian aircraft have been downed during Thursday's conflict. Whether six of these were one by pilot of Kyiv seems unlikely given that the fighting has taken place over a number of battle zones across the country.
What cannot be denied though is that the idea of the Ghost of Kyiv has gripped social media users, particularly staunch supporters of Ukraine. In the replies to the posts about the alleged ace's exploits many users express their admiration and hope that the Ghost will carry on taking the fight to the superior Russian air force. Maybe the Ghost of Kyiv is just a fantasy, but for the people of Ukraine, he or she is a hero they want to believe in.
Note: the photo that accompanies this article is a file photo of a MiG-29. Specifically of a Bulgarian Air Force MiG-29 performing during joint tasks on enhanced airspace protection Air Policing by the Bulgarian and Spanish Air Forces on February 17, 2022 in Graf Ignatievo, Bulgaria.