May 28, 1987 the aircraft of 18-year-old German Mathias Rust landed on Red Square. What was it? A provocation of special services, marketing course or a hooliganism? There is no answer.
Mathias Rust left Helsinki airport “Malami” on May 28. The ultimate goal of the sport aircraft Cessna was Stockholm. Finnish staff perplexed: there was no more than an hour and a half to Sweden, but the aircraft tanks were filled to capacity. Mathias, of course, was not going to the Swedish capital. His purpose was Moscow but at that moment no one could even imagine it, so the flight was allowed. The first 20 minutes of the flight, the pilot was going along designated route, then he contacted the dispatcher, said he was all right and said goodbye. On that day, he no longer contacted anyone by radio.
Shortly after Mathias turned off all means of communication, his plane disappeared from radar screens. In the place of the latest aircraft coordinate, the rescue team was dispatched urgently, which found an oil slick of impressive size on the surface of the sea. The plane was decided to be crashed. Rescuers even summoned to the aid of divers, so they combed the bottom in search of Matthias. Later, “the Kremlin flyer” received from the Finnish authorities an account for a false alarm in the amount of 100 thousand dollars. The origin of the oil spot remained a mystery.
While Finnish rescue workers searched for Rust in the sea, he crossed the border into the Soviet union in the area of Kohtla-Jarve (Estonia) over the Gulf of Finland. To say that the airplane remained unnoticed would be incorrect. In Estonia for some time it was led by two alerted fighters, but they did not receive a permission to intercept or destroy Rust’s aircraft, so they returned to the base. The pilot was also detected by Soviet air defenses – in 2:29 pm the “object” that did not answer the call sign of “friend or foe”, was assigned a number 8255. Three missile battalions were resulted in alertness, but there was no order to destroy the target.
One can say, Rust was just lucky. After the incident with the Korean Boeing, which presumably was shot down by Soviet military over the Pacific Ocean in 1984, they issued an order prohibiting to open fire on sport and civil aircrafts.
Rust could hardly know that at 3 pm, when he was already in the region of Pskov, there were training flights of the local Aviation Regiment. Some airplanes was taking off, others was coming on landing. At exactly 3 p.m. there was a replacement code of state recognition system, so all pilots should have been simultaneously change this code. But some young pilots did not do it and the system made them “foes”. In this “mess” one of aircraft commanders, without investigating the situation, automatically assigned a sign “friend” to all the fighters.
Among the aircrafts there was Rust’s Cessna. Thus, a further way Rust made with the Soviet Air registration. Secondary legalization Rust got near Torzhok, where rescue operations were conducted after the collision of two Soviet aircrafts. So, the German low-speed Cessna was took for the Soviet search helicopter.
Later in court, Rust stated that he wanted to call for peace with his flight. The world’s media have made their more “romantic” versions: Rust was trying to impress a girl or win a bet. Soviet newspapers were published under the headings “Country is shocked!”
They said, Rust’s flight was just a marketing ploy. His father was a dealer of Cessna in Western Europe. Aircraft sales decreased by that time. It was clear that after such “advertising” saying that “the only aircraft that could win the Soviet Air Defence system“, things of the company went uphill . The Soviet military were convinced that this action was nothing but the machinations of foreign intelligence.
At 7:10 pm, Mathias Rust landed his plane on Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge, went to St. Basil’s Cathedral, got out of the plane and started handing out autographs and pose in front of the cameras. Photo and autograph session, however, was short-lived: Mathias Rust was arrested.
His birthday, June 1, he spent in prison. The most humane court in the world sentenced him to imprisonment for a term of 4 years, but on August 3 of next year Mathias Rust was pardoned and expelled from the USSR.
In a total, Rust spent 433 days in Moscow. After his return to Germany, he was stripped of his right to drive an airplane as “mentally unstable” man. Later, Rust confirmed thas definition: while his serving in the hospital he attacked a nurse with a knife because she allegedly refused to go with him on a date. Then he was caught stealing a sweater in a supermarket.
*Mathias Rust is landing on Red Square. May 28, 1987*
Mathias Rust nowadays.