KYIV, UKRAINE – Colonel Oleksandr ‘Grey Wolf’ Oksanchenko, who was the Ukrainian Air Force Su-27 Flanker demo pilot between 2013-2018, has sadly lost his life when his jet was shot down near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Friday, according to a post on Facebook by British Airshow Review. Colonel Oksanchenko died at the age of 53. He reportedly lost his life when his jet was shot down Friday night by a Russian S-400 Triumph Air Defence Missile System, though it has not been officially confirmed by the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine. However, his name was mentioned on Monday in a news item on the website of Ukrainian news agency Interfax-Ukraine, on a list of fallen servicemen who were honored by the government.
Since February 24, 2022, people in the world, particularly in Europe, are very concerned about one thing in particular – the war in Ukraine. Each day we are confronted with sad news updates and shocking images on television and on the internet, showing us the horror of war, one message even more sad and more horrible than the other. Homes are collapsing, children are dying due to missiles flying into peaceful homes and hospitals.
At the same time however, the world is looking with admiration and respect at the abundance of bravery and fighting spirit that the Ukrainians show every day, as they fight for the freedom and independence of their country, which President Putin wants to take from them. Every day heroes arise, but unfortunately heroes also fall in this war, as they give their lives for their beloved country, Ukraine.
Airshow community shocked
On Friday, February 25, 2022, one of those brave Ukrainian men gave his life, fighting for his country. The Ukrainian people, but also aviation enthusiasts worldwide and the airshow community in particular, were shocked by the news on internet that the former Ukrainian Su-27 Flanker demo pilot has been killed during fights over Ukraine. Colonel Oleksandr Oksanchenko – callsign ‘Grey Wolf’- died in the first days of the war in his beloved country Ukraine, since Putin’s Russia invaded the sovereign Eastern European country, that has been an independent country since the collapse of the Soviet Union in december 1991.
Hero of Ukraine
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky posthumously awarded Colonol Oksanchenko with the title of ‘Hero of Ukraine’ on Monday – three days after he was killed – along with eleven other Ukrainian servicemen for their heroism shown in defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and loyalty to the military oath, Interfax-Ukraine reported on Monday. Oksanchenko was also awarded the high rank with the Order of the Golden Star, along with five other Ukraine servicemen.
Popular airshow participant
Colonel Oksanchenko was the Ukraine Air Force’s Su-27 Flanker Demo pilot for 6 years during the airshow seasons 2013-2018, serving with the 831st Guards Tactical Aviation Brigade from Myrhorod Air Base. The Ukrainian Su-27 Flanker Demo Team was a very popular participant of airshows across Europe with its supporting cargo aircraft, the four-engined Ilyushin Il-76 that also served as a participant in the static park of airshows.
Oksanchenko’s breathtaking demo with his beautiful Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker – painted in a stunning blue pixel camo scheme – always left the crowd in awe when showcasing his skills and the Flanker’s capabilities.
At the 2017 edition of the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford, UK – where Oksanchenko performed a so called ‘flat demo’, due to the low cloud deck during the Saturday show – he received the FRIAT Trophy for the best flying demonstration, judged by ‘Friends of RIAT’.
Another awesome demo Oksanchenko performed was when he really pushed his jet to the limit at the 2017 edition of the Czech International Air Fest (CIAF) at Ostrava Leoš Janáček Airport in Czech Republic, on September 2, 2017, where he was also awarded for the best flying demonstration.
Colonel Oksanchenko was born on April 26, 1968 in Malomychajlivka, Ukraine, where he also went to Malomichayliv High School from 1975-1985. After his High School education he joined the air force in March 1985, where he followed his military aviation training at the Kharkiv Higher Military Aviation School of Pilots from 1985-1989.
After his training he became an operational fighter pilot in 1989. It’s unclear which various types of aircraft Oksanchenko flew during his active career as a fighter pilot for the Soviet Air Force from 1989-1992 and the Ukrianian Air Force from 1992-2018.
After his impressive flying career of almost 30 years, he retired from active duty in 2018, but continued to serve as a pilot instructor and deputy commander for flight training.
When Russia attacked Ukraine, he voluntarily returned to active duty to fight for his country. Unfortunately he died in the skies of Kyiv on February 25, 2022. It remains unclair which type of aircraft Oksanchenko was flying when he was shot down.
Ghost of Kyiv
There were rumors on the internet that Colonel Oksanchenko would be the legendary Ukrainian ace called ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ who allegedly shot down 6 Russian jets in one day during the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
It’s unclear if the ace really exists and if so, was Oksachenko the ‘Ghost of Kiev’? For now, this remains a mystery, to which we will hopefully know the answer someday.
While Ukraine mourns its hero and all the other servicemen who gave their lives for their country, the war in the Ukraine continues and the big question remains how this dire situation of the Eastern European country will develop and when there will be a prospect for the Ukrainian people of peace and freedom, to which the country has been accustomed for 30 years.
Colonel Oksanchenko gave his life for his country and will be remembered as a hero in the history of Ukraine. Let’s hope that his sacrifice, and that of many others, was not in vain and that peace will soon be restored in Ukraine.
His spectacular airshow demos over the years will be remembered by countless air show enthusiasts in Europe and beyond, and luckily his demos can be seen on the internet for many years to come.
I had the honor to watch Colonel Oksanchenko perform his demo at the Royal International Air Tattoo in 2017 and 2018, and I’m thankful and proud for being one of those guys to share his demos online with the world.
Thank you for your service, Colonel. Fly high, Grey Wolf!
“To those who’ve had to fly and fight,
who have served their country in the sky,
with a grateful heart, and watchful eye,
we remember” – Dwayne O’Brien
Head image: Jerry Taha / Ministry of Defence of Ukraine
Jerry Taha is the Founder, Chief Editor, and main contributor of flyhigh.news. He has written for avgeekery.com and luchtvaartnieuws.nl. Jerry is a passionate author, photographer, videographer, and YouTube creator. He lives south east of Amsterdam, Netherlands. In addition to his love for aviation, he also loves cars, traveling, being in nature, and he is an Ajax Amsterdam fan.
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