Landing On The Red Square

This is the guy who embarassed the Russians and astounded the world, when in 1987 at the age of 19 flew a Cessna 172B undetected all the way from Malmi airport in Helsinki, landing the craft in Moscow’s Red Square.

Mathias Rust (born 1968) is a German pilot who, in 1987, at the age of 19, flew from Hamburg to Moscow, eluding the Soviet air defences and landed in Red Square near the Kremlin.

After leaving Hamburg on May 28 Rust refuelled his Cessna 172B at Helsinki-Malmi Airport. He told air traffic control that he was going to Stockholm, but he turned his plane towards the east. Rust disappeared from the Finnish air space near Sipoo. He headed towards the Baltic coastline and turned towards Moscow. By chance, he flew into the Soviet Union on the national border guard’s holiday, and the lax security that resulted allowed him to fly into Soviet territory unnoticed. I think it was even by chance but the date was chosen by him on purpose because it’s well known that during this holiday every national guardian is drunk no matter he is engaged on his post or resting in the barracks.

 Rust flew straight towards Moscow and landed in Red Square. He was arrested immediately by the Soviet authorities. Though on this photo he doesn’t look like immediately arrested, authorities seem like enternained by his deed.
mathias rust landed on red square of Moscow city in 1987

Mikhail Gorbachev took advantage of this, replacing the defense and air defense ministers (both of whom were opposed to glasnost and perestroika) with men who supported his policies. More than 2,000 officers (again, most of whom were opposed to Gorbachev’s reform) lost their jobs. This move was critical in winning over the previously fiercely conservative and anti-reform military. I guess if it happened today it could be interpreted like a covert action for coup lead by Gorbachev.

Rust’s trial started in Moscow on September 2, 1987. He was sentenced to four years in a labour camp for hooliganism, disregard of aviation laws and infringement of the Soviet border. After a prison sentence of 432 days in the Soviet Union, he was returned to West Germany on August 3, 1988. It’s not clear was his plane returned to him or was it confiscated.


13 thoughts on “Landing On The Red Square”

  1. You can read more about this (and what he’s doing now) here:

    Also Mathias has a website which appears to be dead:

  2. Going by wiki:
    Today, a wealthy Japanese businessman owns Rust’s aircraft, and he is keeping it in a hangar until its value appreciates.

  3. When this guy entered the Soviet airspace, Gorbachev didn’t know what to do with him. The obvious option was to shoot him down, but the problem was, that sometime before this incident, the Soviets brought down a Korean 747 (if I’m not mistaken), which was a huge world scandal! So Gorbachev didn’t want to make things worse and turn the world against USSR more (or, he probably used this opportunity to replace the military officials later for letting the German onto Red Square). In any case, the guy spent a year in USSR, went back to his country and made it into history books. Good for him.

  4. Finland made a huge mistake. They let German plane attack Soviet soil through Finnish land. That should have been more than enough reason to invade that puny troll “country”.

  5. Grigory, how about first try to take care of Вы́борг(Viipuri) before moving your army towards Helsinki? Now we have to buy it back house by house,heh heh!!


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