Air Force Colonel Mykhailo Matyushenko, a ‘Ghost of Kyiv’, killed in dogfight over Black Sea

3 October, 11:41 AM
The dead pilot from Bucha, who led the

The dead pilot from Bucha, who led the "Ghosts of Kyiv" was found (Photo:Anatoliy Fedoruk/Facebook)

Veteran Ukrainian fighter jet pilot Colonel Mykhailo Matyushenko was killed on June 26 in an aerial battle over the Black Sea, Mayor of Bucha, Anatoliy Fedoruk has revealed in a post Facebook.

Matyushenko, known by the call sign “Did” (Grandpa) was the head of the Ukrainian Air Force’s 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade, which guards the skies over the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. For their exploits in shooting down Russian aircraft in the early part of the full-scale invasion, the unit became known collectively as “The Ghost of Kyiv” – a mythical Ukrainian ace fighter pilot.

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“Matyushenko passed on his invaluable experience to the younger generation of fighter pilots,” Fedoruk wrote.

“And only now can we tell the true story: ‘The Ghosts of Kyiv’ were led by a pilot from Bucha."

Matyushenko flew many types of military and civilian aircraft during his life, serving in various military units. He also worked as a manager at a Ukrainian airline before Russia launched its full-scale war.

After Matyushenko took command of the 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade, it never suffered losses in the air, Fedoruk said.

Matyushenko's comrades tell about one particular incident – one night, Did rushed into an aerial battle in an Aero L-39 Albatross training jet, simulating an attack by a Ukrainian MiG-29 on a pair of Russian Su-30s. Fooled by the ruse, the enemy retreated.

Later on, the colonel decided to strengthen Ukraine’s control of the airspace on the southern and eastern fronts.

"When Did found out about the irreversible losses of trained bomber crews, a decision was made. This is how a new operation began," Fedoruk said.

Matyushenko went on a bombing mission himself.

It was the last one for the 61-year-old Matyushenko. He never returned from the flight, having been shot down over the Black Sea, and the search and rescue mission for him went on for a long time before his body was recovered.

The hero set off on his last journey home, to Bucha on Oct. 2. The funeral ceremony was scheduled to be held on Oct. 3, at 2.00 p.m., on the Alley of Heroes (at the cemetery on Deputatska Street, 1, Bucha).

In April, the command of the Ukrainian Air Force of the AFU responded to an article in the UK newspaper The Times, which claimed that the legendary "Ghost of Kyiv" was in fact the Hero of Ukraine, Major Stepan Tarabalka, who was reported killed.

The Air Force said that this was not true, as "The Ghost of Kyiv" was rather the collective image of the pilots of the 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade, who guard the skies over the Ukrainian capital.

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