Is ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ real? Mysterious fighter pilot allegedly shot down 15 Russian planes single-handedly

It has been going viral on social media for several days: images and stories about a mysterious fighter pilot who single-handedly took six Russian planes from the sky over Kyiv during the first thirty hours of the war in Ukraine. According to the newspaper Kyiv Post, the counter of the ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ has already reached fifteen. But what’s the point?

Even Ukraine’s official Twitter account shared a video about the unknown MiG-29 pilot. “People call him the Ghost of Kyiv, and rightly so. He rules the skies over our capital and our country and is already a nightmare for the Russian planes entering our country,” it said in a post from Sunday morning, which has already been viewed more than 1.3 million times.


The images show how a fighter jet takes another aircraft out of the sky. “We probably have our first ‘ace’ since World War II,” it sounds, referring to a pilot who shot down at least five other aircraft. “In the first 30 hours after the Russian invasion, he shot down six Russian military aircraft. On February 26, the counter was already at ten.”

However, Ukraine’s Twitter account also admits in the same video that the pilot is unknown and that it is not certain whether he actually shot down the ten Russian aircraft. “But the Ukrainians are very grateful to this hero. He eats Russian planes for breakfast. Godspeed and good hunting.” To get the latest stories, install our app here.

Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko also shared a photo that would show the mysterious fighter pilot. But as tempting as such a masked hero may be, there is every indication that it is an urban legend and a handy piece of propaganda to keep morale high in Ukraine.

After all, several war experts have already expressed their doubts that such a feat is even possible in modern warfare. And some footage of the pilot in action turns out to be from a video game, too: Digital Combat Simulator.

The original video on YouTube clearly stated that it was a simulation as a tribute to the ‘Ghost of Kiev’. When the images later found their way to other social media, the part that it wasn’t real was left out by some. That was also when the images went viral. To get the latest stories, install our app here.


As of now, no confirmed images of the ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ in action have surfaced. On the first day of the conflict, Ukrainian army chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi said at least eight Russian aircraft were shot down across Ukraine. Given that Ukraine has 98 fighters and ground defenses, it seems very unlikely that one pilot would be good for six hits in just over a day.

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