30 Apr, 2022 12:45 AM3 minutes to read
The “Ghost of Kyiv” has been awarded Ukraine’s highest honour and has been identified as Major Stepan Tarabalka. Photo / Twitter
The mysterious “Ghost of Kyiv”, a Ukrainian fighter pilot who reportedly shot down dozens of Russian aircrafts, has been killed in battle, according to multiple reports.
The pilot’s death was reported by The Times of London, who also identified the “Ghost of Kyiv” as Major Stepan Tarabalka, a 29-year-old father-of-one.
Tarabalka has been hailed a hero and is credited with taking out as many as 40 Russian aircraft.
He was reportedly shot down on March 13. The Times of London says he was killed while battling an “overwhelming” number of enemy forces.
Tarabalka has been posthumously awarded Ukraine’s top medal for bravery in combat, the Order of the Golden Star, with the title Hero of Ukraine.
According to The Times of London, The Ukrainian pilot hailed as the “Ghost of Kyiv” was killed in battle on March 13.
He’s been identified as Major Stepan Tarabalka, a 29 yr-old father of 1. pic.twitter.com/QKQt3dsOgh
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) April 29, 2022
According to the same report, the Ghost of Kyiv’s helmet and goggles will be auctioned off in London.
The legend of the Ghost of Kyiv became known when the Ukrainian government credited the then-anonymous pilot with shooting down six Russian jets on the first day of the war.
“People call him the Ghost of Kyiv. And rightly so,” the official tweet said, saying he had “already become a nightmare for invading Russian aircraft”.
Ukraine’s General Staff later tweeted another picture of the ace fighter pilot in the cockpit of his MiG-29 jet with his face covered, captioned, “Hello, occupier, I’m coming for your soul!”
His identity remained a mystery this entire time, seemingly even to his family, when told of their loved one’s death last month.
“We know he was flying on a mission. And he completed the mission, his task. Then he didn’t return. That’s all the information we have,” his dad, Evon Tarabalka, said in an interview with the NPR soon after the pilot’s death.
According to his parents, Tarabalka’s lifelong dream was to become a fighter pilot, after growing up next to a military airfield in the village of Korolivka.
“Since early childhood, he always dreamed of the sky, about flying higher than the clouds,” his mother Nahtalia told NPR through a translator.
“He would always watch the paratroopers in their air exercises. And he would run in their direction to try to see where they landed,” she added.
His parents said they were amazed when he made his dream come true, despite having no military connections.
“Becoming a pilot, it was his own effort. He did it all himself. I just helped with prayers,” his mother said.
Tarabalka leaves behind a wife, Olenia, and 8-year-old son, Yarik.