Sonia is back. The Ghost of Kyiv and Livistona Palm
I know you miss my little curious redhead girlfriend. So do I. Besides, her mission of searching for mini sculptures and learning new things about Ukrainian capital is not over. It was suspended because of the war, but to survive (and win), we have to keep on living, developing and even having fun. In addition, the project "SHUKAI" is alive, and Sonia found out that new sculptures have been added to it recently.
Since we are locked in a concrete jungles this summer, let's start from a lovely green island located in the city center - the Botanical Garden (one of two), small and cozy. It is very much loved by locals - lovers, students (the garden adjoins the main building of Kyiv University), mothers with children, pensioners, tour guides. Could you say Sonia isn't in the deep woods looking at the photo?
Kyiv Liviston's Palm
Rub me and nothing will limit your horizons 🚀
This awesome sculpture is dedicated to the oldest and the tallest palm tree in Kyiv. Please note that in the photo, the glass roof looks damaged, and giant leaves are growing both under it and over it, like the palm tree is trying to break out. That's a fact from her real life 😊. The thing is that Liviston's Kyiv Palm grows in a greenhouse, because of climate features, and when its top first reached the glass roof, the greenhouse was specially rebuilt to increase its height and give the palm room to grow.
Do you remember my post about visiting a glazed conservatory Feb 2021? Times of COVID. Now we have another bane, much worse ... 😏
Then, I wrote that the palm tree is actually blooming, and it's probably it's last bloom because there's no more space to grow up. Oh, it's gorgeous! I wonder if it was blooming these winter? Is it still there?
A few botanical details. In fact, Livistona is a genus of palms. This one is Livistona australis. Named after Patrik Miurrei, Baron of Livingston, a botanist and horticulturist, who was largely responsible for establishing the botanical gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was passionate about botany and collected more than a thousand species of different plants in his garden.
Currently Livistona australis is the oldest and the tallest of European palms that grow in the conservatoires. Thanks to its age and size it has the status of national heritage.
This is the view of the conservatory from the point where mini sculpture is installed.
Ghost of Kyiv
Touch me and will bring us closer to victory ✨
Ghost of Kyiv is a kind if an urban legend but also a generalized character of those guys who guarded the sky over Kyiv and region and during the first weeks of the war fought heavy battles in which Russians had a significant advantage in numbers.
The truth is that only thanks to our Armed Forces, we can hang around and enjoy the summer. It's not a figure of speech and not an exaggeration.
My husband and I woke up at 5am on February 24th to the terrifying sounds of an air raid alarm, but even more terrifying were the sounds of planes flying over in the sky. I had almost no doubt that these were enemy planes. Later we realized that it was our planes that took off immediately after the first strikes.
Having a goal to destroy airplanes, Russia wanted to gain complete dominion over the sky, so that it would then be possible to take Kyiv at lightning speed considering deliver military personnel, equipment, and ammunition by airplanes to the nearest airfields.
Military reports said that during the first 30 hours of the invasion the pilot of the Ukrainian MiG–29 shot down 6 enemy aircraft: Su-27, MiG–29, two Su-35s and two Su–25s. The guardian of the sky was nicknamed the Ghost of Kyiv. Yet, no one knew who that legendary pilot was.
Every day information telegram channels kept track of the enemy equipment destroyed by the Ghost of Kyiv. When the number exceeded forty, military experts started doubting that it was a single soldier. On March the 1st it was reported that the pilot had died in combat. Later on, another version appeared that the Ghost of Kyiv was a 29 y.o. Major Stepan Tarabalka who died on March the 13th in an air battle near Zhytomyr. He was honored the title of Hero of Ukraine.
Afterwards, The Air Force Command reported that the Ghost of Kyiv was a collective image of the pilots of the Vasylkiv 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade. It was they who guarded the sky over Kyiv and during the first weeks of the full-scale invasion fought heavy battles in which the enemy had a significant advantage in numbers. At 5:15am on February the 24th the Vasylkiv Air Base of the 40th brigade was hit by the enemy missile. Nevertheless, the brigade's fighting force was raised to the sky and was not injured. After the failure in Hostomel, Russians was trying to land at the Vasylkiv airfield. However, they failed this time as well. Ukrainian Su–27 fighter attacked an enemy military transport aircraft IL–76 and destroyed it.
And you know, this is the first mini sculpture that is younger than Sonia. It was installed in June 2022. You can find at 56A Bohdana Khmelnytskoho Street, search for City Hotel.
As a bonus for Sonia and you, my dear reader, I have a short story about "Flying Cossacks".
It is about the 66th Aviation Subdivision of the USA Air Force “Flying Cossacks” that consisted of 48 pilots, among whom there was one Ukrainian – Stepan Oleka. The Subdivision was founded in 1969 at the base in Webb (Texas, the USA).
There is a tradition in the US Army that military units choose their own symbols and names. So our compatriot Stepan suggested taking a trident as a basis. His fellows liked the idea, so in order to fully become “Ukrainian” they took the name “Flying Cossacks”. Since then, they had been wearing a red trident on a black background in their uniforms and painted it on their training planes.
“Cossacks” made it hot as they conducted more than 10,000 combat sorties during the war in Vietnam.