Ukraine: tribute to the chief pilot of the “ghosts of Kyiv”, killed on a mission

Ukraine: tribute to the chief pilot of the «ghosts of Kyïv”, killed on mission


Ukrainians on Monday paid tribute to the officer who commanded the pilots of the 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade, nicknamed “the ghosts of Kyiv”, who died a “hero” during a mission over of the Black Sea. 

Colonel Mykhailo Matyushenko died “heroically” on June 26 during an “air combat mission (…) protecting the skies of the country “, wrote on his Facebook page Anatoli Fedorouk, the mayor of Boutcha where a farewell ceremony for the officer took place.

The pilot, who died at the age of 60, was from this town on the outskirts of Kyiv, which became a symbol of the atrocities attributed to Russian forces during their occupation of the vicinity of the Ukrainian capital in March.

Mykhaylo Matyushenko, whose code name was “grandfather”, commanded the pilots of the 40th tactical air brigade, otherwise known as “the ghosts of Kyiv”, in who he passed on his “invaluable experience”, added the mayor.

About 300 people attended the ceremony at the Boutcha cemetery, around the ashes of the deceased, AFP journalists noted.

In the gray sky, a Ukrainian fighter plane flew over the scene several times.

Mykhaylo Matyushenko “used to say about his participation in military operations: + I devoted my whole life to this, and despite the fact that I am already very old, I will go to fight, because I can do it better than anyone, “said his wife to the press on the sidelines of the ceremony.

The expression “ghost of Kyiv” appeared at the beginning of the war, when social networks massively relayed this nickname given to a mysterious Mig-29 pilot to praise his supposed exploits in the Ukrainian sky where he single-handedly shot down many Russian planes.

Some official Ukrainian sites had even relayed images of air combat – which actually came from a video game – and of an anonymous pilot, still wearing a helmet with a black visor lowered, to illustrate his prowess.

“This ace (…) has become a nightmare for invading Russian aircraft,” Ukraine’s Defense Ministry wrote in a tweet on February 27, three days after the start of of the invasion.

But the Ukrainian Air Force put an end to the myth on April 30, confessing on its Facebook page that “the Phantom of kyiv is a legend of superheroes created by the Ukrainians”.

“You have to see it as a collective representation of the pilots of the 40th air force brigade. tactical action. They are the ones who protect the sky of the capital and can suddenly appear where the enemy does not expect them, ”she explained at the time.