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Allegedly Self-Taught Pilot Flew Passenger Planes Without Ever Attending Aviation University

Russian media recently featured the story of Taras Shelest, a highly-regarded passenger jet pilot who turned out to be a complete fraud. Despite having never attended aviation university and instead faking his diploma, Shelest allegedly flew thousands of people all around the world for several years, until a bizarre incident finally exposed him.

In August of 2015, Taras Shelest was a co-pilot on a passenger flight from Moscow to Cyprus. When entering Ukrainian airspace, he contacted the ground controller as per protocol, only instead of sticking to the strict technical language, he used a very peculiar greeting – “Glory to Ukraine!” This was apparently so unusual that Shelest was reported to his company’s security service, which in turn contacted the FSB, Russia’s federal security service. Taras’ fellow pilots were whispering to each other that he had lost his mind, for using that bizarre greeting, but the result of the investigation into his background revealed something even crazier – the man was not even a real pilot, but a flight enthusiast who had taught himself to fly using flying simulators and faked his aviation university diploma.

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