Mathias Rust

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Mathias Rust (born July 1968 in Wedel, Schleswig-Holstein, West Germany) is a German man known for his illegal landing near Red Square in Moscow in 1987. As an amateur aviator, he flew from Finland to Moscow, being tracked several times by Soviet air defence and interceptors. The Soviet fighters never received permission to shoot him down, and several times he was mistaken for a friendly aircraft. He landed on Vasilevski Spusk next to Red Square near the Kremlin in the capital of the USSR.

Rust's intentions, as he stated, were to create an "imaginary bridge" to the East, and he has claimed that his flight was intended to reduce tension and suspicion between the two Cold War sides.[1] Rust's successful flight through a supposedly impregnable air defense system had a great impact on the Soviet military and led to the firing of many senior officers, including Defence Minister Marshal of the Soviet Union Sergei Sokolov and the head of the Soviet Air Defense, former WWII fighter ace pilot Chief Marshal Alexander Koldunov. The incident aided Mikhail Gorbachev in the implementation of his reforms (by removing numerous military officials opposed to him), and reduced the prestige of the Soviet military among the population, thus helping bring an end to the Cold War.[1]


Flight profile

After leaving Uetersen near Hamburg on May 13, Rust refueled his rented Reims Cessna F172P D-ECJB in the morning of May 28, 1987 at Helsinki-Malmi Airport. He told air traffic control that he was going to Stockholm, but right after his final communication with traffic control he turned his plane to the east. Air traffic controllers tried to contact him as he was moving around the busy Helsinki-Moscow route, but Rust turned off all communications equipment aboard.[1][2]

Rust disappeared from the Finnish air traffic control radar near Sipoo.[1] Air traffic control presumed an emergency, and a rescue effort was organized, including a Finnish Border Guard patrol boat. They found an oil patch near the place where Rust disappeared from radar and performed an underwater search with no results. Rust was later charged about $100,000 for this effort. The origin of the oil patch remains unknown.

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