04 June 2007

20 Years ago, a small single engine plane defeated the USSR

The west German Matthias Rust from Wedel near Hamburg, an only 19 years old hobby pilot takes a Cessna 172 for a breathtaking illegal flight to Moscow.
Rust took off in Uetersen near Hamburg and flew at first to Iceland, then via Norway to Finland, where he landed at Helsinki airport Malmi on 25th of May 1987. From here he flew on 28th to Moscow. Soviet air defense quickly detected and identified the intruder as Cessna 172 and two MiG-23 interceptor took off to intercept Rust but flew parallel to his Cessna as TV takes show. No decision was made regarding the Cessna 172 and after 5 1/2 hours, Rust circled his sport plane over the red square and Kreml in Moscow at 18:15. At 18:40 he landed on a Moskwa bridge and taxied to the Basilius Kathedral. Rust exited the Cessna and spent Haribo´s to the surprised people.
He was sentenced to four years in a Soviet labour camp and served 432 days but he was allowed to return to Hamburg in 1988.

Sergej Sokolow, defense ministre and Alexandre Koldunow CinC of the soviet air defense and some further officers had to be relieved following this event by Michail Gorbatschov. This may be a political move of Gorbatshov to expell political adversaries.


Here is a personal account from "The Observer" in 2002...

Name: Mathias Rust
Date: 28 May, 1987
Place: Red Square, Moscow
Facts: German-born Mathias Rust, 34, made headlines as a 19-year-old when he landed a Cessna light aircraft in Red Square. He was sentenced to four years in a Soviet labour camp and served 432 days. He returned to Hamburg in 1988, where he now lives with his second wife, Athena
I got my private pilot's license in autumn 1986.

I was 19 and very political. I was interested in relations between East and West, particularly the Reykjavik meeting between Gorbachev and Reagan. I realised that the aircraft was the key to peace. I could use it to build an imaginary bridge between East and West. I didn't tell anybody about my plan because I was convinced my family or friends would stop me. I didn't think much about what would happen afterwards. My main focus was on my mission to get there and land. I believed that something would work out.


I hired a Cessna in Hamburg and flew to Moscow via Helsinki in May 1987. My plan was to land in Red Square, but there were too many people and I thought I'd cause casualties. I had thought about landing in the Kremlin, but there wasn't enough space. I wanted to choose somewhere public, because I was scared of the KGB. I approached Red Square three times, trying to find somewhere to land, before discovering a wide bridge nearby. I landed there and taxied into Red Square. As it turned out, the day I chose - 28 May - was the holiday of the border patrol. I suspect that's how I got away with it.

My landing caused plenty of confusion. People came up and surrounded the plane and soon the police arrived to take me away. The defence and air defence ministers were both replaced and more than 2,000 officers lost their jobs. I was sentenced to four years in a labour camp, but spent my time in the interrogation prison because the KGB couldn't guarantee my safety.

I was locked up for 22 hours a day in a 10sq-metre cell, but at least nobody could harm me.

My parents came to visit every two months and brought plenty of books. I had one companion. He was a teacher from the Ukraine who spoke English so we could communicate a bit. I learnt a few Russian words, but it was hard to concentrate. Imprisonment hit me so hard - much harder than I had thought.

After my trial, my flying club got permission to bring the plane back to Germany. It was originally worth about 75,000DM [£24,000], and I think they sold it for 160,000DM [£51,000]. It's owned by a Japanese businessman who's stored it waiting for the value to go up. He compared it to Charles Lindbergh's aircraft!



Arriving home in Germany was difficult, as I faced a lot of negative media attention. It affected me badly: I lost 10Kg and had stomach problems. It took the legs out from under me. I couldn't go out for weeks because there was always someone shouting at me in the street, and I received many death threats. My parents were angry, but they were relieved that I was in good condition. They had been afraid the Russians would torture me. They told me not to do it again! You have to be young to be able to do things like that. Now I'm more cautious. I'm proud that I was able to do what I did - psychologically it was a great wall to climb - but sometimes I regret it.

My problems came to a head in 1989. Everyone in Germany does a period of obligatory service in the community, and I was doing mine in a local hospital. I met a young nurse and wanted to invite her for coffee. We were in the changing room and I think she was scared. I asked whether she wanted to go out with me, but she started to curse and offend me. It caused a blackout.

I ended up injuring her with a knife I had on me. I can't really remember what happened.

I later worked out with the psychologists that my encounter with her must have triggered off something. I'm a peaceful person, but all the anger and aggression that was stored up came pouring out. She got a flesh wound - but she was in the hospital, which was good luck. I'm very sorry.

I was sentenced to two years, but I was released after five months. After that I couldn't show my face outside. I lost my identity and balance. I was still living with my parents, and they were my only friends. For so many people, this thing with the nurse was confirmation that I must be mad or mentally ill. I moved away for three years and went to Trinidad where I met my wife, Athena.

I now work for a finance company in Luxembourg with projects in South America and the Caribbean. I don't have my pilot's licence anymore, but I'm still very political. My newest idea is Orion and Isis (www.mathiasrust.com) - a kind of think-tank. We're currently working on a plan to find peace for the Middle East. I'm going to Israel at the end of October to get in touch with some key people. All Orion and Isis members are anonymous - it works better that way. It allows everyone to work together without jealousy or personal issues. Currently I have about 25 people involved - scientists, former Nobel Peace Prize winners. Top people capable of finding solutions.

Once this key conflict is eased, it will have a huge impact on the world. It will take time to find a solution. It's similar to the situation between East and the West at the time of my flight. Then the Cold War finished and then Germany reunified. I think the flight triggered it, because it gave Gorbachev the chance to get rid of those military hardliners. I'm still convinced that my idea was the right one. It showed anything is possible.



At the time this shocked the hell out of me. How could something so basic and small defeat the radars set up to prevent US bombers from entering the USSR. A report came out in 1989 from the RAND Corp basically saying how their radars were not up to par because of the lack of training which I could also see now as well. The PVO had a lot on their plate and by 1987 there was so little money.
I thought about this incident again in 2002 when we had deployed up to Kyrgyzstan to fly into Afghanistan. We would hop around the once proud regions of the former Soviet Union and I was shocked how they never had a clue where we were. and folks, you can see a C-130 on ANY radar. We would have to give them hourly position reports just like we would if flying over open ocean. This was not just in Kyrgyzstan, this was ALL the former blocks. How could they be that degraded all at the same level at the same time? I am not sure but, I do not think that our bombers would have had too much trouble at least penetrating the border.

What are your thoughts?

1 comment:

Bruce Rock said...

Do you see what I see, Way up in the sky?

A POWER greater than ours, Way up in the sky
A POWER greater than Powers of the US Air Force, Way up in the sky,
A POWER displayed not with random chance but with rhyme and reason, and Signs and Wonders.
A POWER that echo's though all of HIS STORY?

RUST put a hole in the Iron Curtain , Francis Gary Powers was shot down,

A few days after 19 year old Mathias RUST landed near St. Basil's Cathedral, Mikhail Gorbachev replaced the defense minister Sergei Sokolov and anti-air defense commander Alexander Koldunov, a former World War II fighter ace (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.

The day (May 28, 1987) Rust landed on the Red Square was also the day celebrated as the Ascension into Heaven of the One who said "store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal".

Since the last leg of Rust's flight started from the Finnish (Hell-Sink-ee), I believe those of Acts 4:32-35 had more to do with it than the ex-actor Ronald Reagan.