FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show A Genuine Photo of ‘The Ghost of Kyiv’?

Kenia Mazariegos | Contributor

A post shared on Facebook over 11,000 times allegedly shows a photo of the Ukrainian “Ghost of Kyiv” fighter pilot and claims his name is Samuyil Hyde.

Verdict: False

The image is digitally altered. Sam Hyde, who the Facebook post incorrectly identified as the “Ghost of Kyiv,” has been the subject of a long-running internet meme.

Fact Check:

Ukraine maintains a “significant majority” of its air force despite Russian airstrikes and targets on airports, according to Reuters. The “Ghost of Kyiv” is an unconfirmed story regarding a Ukrainian ace pilot that was supposedly responsible for shooting down six Russian aircraft during the first day of the Russian invasion, the New York Post reported.

The Facebook post claims to reveal the identity of the pilot central to the viral rumor. “Ukrainian fighter-ace known as the ‘Ghost of Kyiv’s real name is Samuyil Hyde, a 36 year old who was identified as the Mig-29 Pilot accredited with downing 6 Russian Jets,” the caption reads, in part. (RELATED: Did The Associated Press Report ‘The Ghost Of Kyiv’ Was Shot Down?)

The person that the Facebook post attempts to allege is the “Ghost of Kyiv” is actually a comedian and is not associated with the Ukrainian military in any way. Photos of Sam Hyde, an online comedian from the group “Million Dollar Extreme,” have been used by social media users for years to incorrectly identify school shooters and mass murderers, according to The New York Times.

A reverse image search revealed Hyde’s face has been digitally superimposed into the photo. The original picture can be seen in an Air Force Times article titled “Air Force identifies Guard pilot killed in Ukraine crash.” The caption identifies the airman as then-Capt. Seth Nehring preparing for a mission “during operation Cooperative Cope Thunder” in Alaska in July 2004. Nehring was killed in a plane crash during an exercise in Ukraine in 2018, according to the Air Force Times.

Check Your Fact recently debunked a video that claimed to show a Ukrainian pilot shooting down a Russian jet early on in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Kenia Mazariegos