These Are Some Of The Most Creative Ways The ‘Ghost Of Kyiv’ Is Being Portrayed Online

Ghost of Kyiv
Artwork of the unknown heroic pilot, represented with a skull face under his visor, and his MiG-29 Fulcrum in the characteristic Ukrainian digital camo. (Image from unknown author over the internet)

No matter you believe the legend of the “Ghost of Kyiv” or not: it has become the worldwide emblem of the Ukrainian resistance and is now the main character of many interesting artworks.

We already reported about the anonymous ace in a MiG-29 dubbed “The Ghost of Kyiv” [please make sure you have read that story to know our position on on it] that, according to some reports, keeps fighting in the skies over Ukraine against the Russian Air Forces. According to social media, in only a few hours the mystery pilot singlehandedly shot down “six Russian aircraft” to achieve ace-in-a-day (shooting down more than five enemy aircraft) status, becoming the first air combat ace over European soil since World War II.

Among his alleged kills, the Ghost initially claimed no less than two Russian Sukhoi Su-35s, a Russian Su-27 Flanker, a Russian MiG-29 and two Russian Su-25 ground attack aircraft. The legend started with a series of three tweets showing a lone Ukrainian fighter jet operating over the capital, which were retweeted thousands of times. The Spanish newspaper Marca was among the first to claim that the Ghost of Kyiv had downed the six aircraft.

Even the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense posted about the Ghost, retweeting footage of a MiG-29 fighting a Russian aircraft in what was later revealed to be a video recorded in the flight simulator DCS World. Former Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, posted on Twitter a photo of a fighter pilot, claiming it to be the real Ghost of Kyiv. Obviously, there is no way to confirm his real identity and his air-to-air kills, but for many the one from the former president appeared to turn a wild urban legend into reality.

These were two of the first and most shared emblems of the Ghost. (Unknown)

Adding to this there are also statements from U.S. defense officials saying that Ukrainians “still have air and missile defense capability, including aircraft in the air that continue to engage and deny air access to Russian aircraft.” The latter statements seem to be confirmed also by the sporadic photos of lone Ukrainians MiG-29s and Su-27s that continuously relocate among the surviving airfields to stand alert and keep fighting for their country.

Ghost of Kyiv
Two of the many emblems created to tribute the Ghost of Kyiv and circulating online. (Images from unknown author over the internet)

Right now, two main different narratives surround the “Ghost of Kyiv”, the first one with people claiming that the Ghost exists and keeps going after the Russians and dropping them like flies; the second one with people claiming that the Ghost does not exist and his story is just the fruit of propaganda. Both theories obviously have their detractors, which in the first case say that the ghost does not exist and only serves the role of distracting the Ukrainians from their losses, while in the second case they say that refusing this story means being pro-Russian because the Ghost exposes Russian losses.

However, either saying that the Ghost exists or that it is just a legend does not mean supporting one party rather than another, because even if it could be just a fictitious character, it can still boost the morale of the Ukrainian people and give them hope, and this is exactly what they need at the moment. “True or not, this is exactly the kind of inspiring story the resistance needs right now,” one user said on social medias. A story that exhaust bravery and love for the motherland, giving people hope, pride and desire to fight with some examples to follow.

Fictional cover arts of Call of Duty and Ace Combat game dedicated to the Ghost. (Images from unknown author over the internet)

We might even think about a third theory that can combine the other two: the Ghost of Kyiv both exists and is a fictitious character at the same time, he’s every Ukrainian pilot who, against all odds, outgunned and outnumbered, courageously gets in the air to do its part and protect his country from the Russian invasion, continuing to resist and fight day after day.

Whatever will be the truth, the Ghost of Kyiv is now an hero to the eyes of the world, the emblem of the Ukrainian resistance that does not want to surrender, and as such he’s receiving tributes from all over the world, like the images that you can see here that have been posted in the last few days on social medias to honor this heroic pilot, maybe imaginary, maybe not.

Ghost of Kyiv
The Ghost is also the main theme of memes about the conflict. (Images from unknown author over the internet)

Many emblems and insignias have been created for the Ghost, prominently showing his MiG-29, skull faces and the Ukrainian flag colors. Some users even created cover art for fictitious new chapters of the famous Call of Duty and Ace Combat video games series to be entirely dedicated to the Ghost of Kyiv and his actions during this war as the main storyline.

Memes are always present, trying to lighten the mood a bit even in such a tragic situation. Good examples of these memes are the Ghost-inspired recreation of the famous “I want to believe” UFO meme, as well as the “Mr. Incredible becoming uncanny” meme of a Russian soldier recognizing the Ghost flying over Kyiv or the “You have been visited by the Ghost of Kyiv”, with a photo from some years ago of a MiG-29 painted with the Ukrainian flag colors.

The version created by renowned Italian artist Mirco Pecorari of AircraftStudioDesign.

Last but not least, the picture of the “badass ace pilot” flying his MiG-29 with just a t-shirt instead of the usual flight suit, as people imagines this legendary Ghost, and an artwork inspired by the videos of his first sightings flying low over Kyiv’s trees on the horizon. The latter seems a recurring theme, with many artworks showing the lone fighter over the city line.

The prevailing theme however is always the MiG-29 Fulcrum with its distinctive Ukrainian Air Force pixelated grey camouflage, even if sometimes is replaced by a Su-27 Flanker or an upgraded MiG-35, the latter of which is not in service in Ukraine. The Fulcrum always appear either silhouetted against other elements, like the national colors blue and yellow, which is another recurring theme, or pictured in action with Russian Flankers in flames in the background.

Other elements in these artworks are related to the symbology often associated to combat actions, like the ace of spades (which usually has many different meanings) and the tick marks used to show the Ghost’s six air-to-air kills. Another one, even if modified, recalls the Punisher, the famous vigilante from Marvel’s comics. His famous skull is often represented behind the pilot’s helmet visor, and even with a MiG-29-shaped nose cavity.

Some of the many artworks dedicated to the Ghost of Kyiv. (Images from unknown author over the internet)

By the way, there’s an update: on Feb. 27, 2022, the Ukrainian MOD provided an update, stating that the Ghost had already achieved 10 kills… The legend lives on.


About Stefano D'Urso
Stefano D'Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he's also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.