this story is from the category of "obvious - incredible". at that time, this incident, in a sense, even predetermined the fate of the soviet union! the 18-year-old rust, who flew out of helsinki, managed not only to illegally enter the airspace of the ussr, but also to get to moscow without hindrance. and this very fact exposed the discord that reigned at that time in the ranks of the soviet troops.
mikhail gorbachev took advantage of this incident by firing many high-ranking military leaders and thus making it easier for himself to carry out the planned reforms. and what they led to, everyone knows: the soviet union collapsed.
let's talk about the details of this amazing story. the 18-year-old rust, of course, was not an experienced pilot and had only 50 flying hours to his credit. besides being a child of the cold war, he was, as the journalists who spoke to him later confirmed, distinguished by "weirdness." once the idea came to him to build a "bridge" between east and west and thereby reduce the tension that reigned between them at that time. a bold idea, but in essence it was analogous to suicide! how was he going to overcome the soviet air defense system? did he think about it at all? one way or another, but an incredible chain of events led to the fact that rust's idea was a success.
on 13 may 1987, he rented the aforementioned cessna 172 (a four-seater light aircraft, the most popular training model) in utersen near hamburg in northern germany, that is, what was then west germany. this plane was modified, and instead of "unnecessary" passenger seats, additional tanks with fuel were installed.
for two weeks rust flew over northern europe, visited the faroe islands and even iceland. so he prepared for the long journey, which he had been thinking about from the very beginning. on may 28, he flew to helsinki to replenish fuel supplies. to the flight control service, he announced that he was going to stockholm, and took off at 12.21. immediately after the last conversation with the control service, he deployed his plane ... to russia.
the service tried to get in touch with him, but rust did not respond. he disappeared from radar, and in helsinki it was assumed that an accident had happened. immediately organized a search. while the finns were looking for the downed cessna 172 with air patrols, the rust was already flying over the baltic sea. entering the airspace of the soviet union over estonia, he turned directly towards moscow ...
at 14.29 he appeared on the radars of the soviet air defense. they tried to get in touch with him, but he again did not answer, and therefore he was considered an enemy military aircraft, assigned the number 8255.
soviet air defense followed him with surface-to-air missiles for some time , but due to bureaucracy, confusing procedures, or for some other reason, permission to launch the missiles was never obtained. but so far all air defense systems are on high alert, and two fighters are taking off. at 14:48 soviet military pilots make eye contact and confirm that a light-engine sports plane is flying in the sky. since they were unable to make contact with him, they request permission to shoot him down, but again there is no order. all requests fall into obscurity somewhere, and rust continues on his way.
soon the fighters lose visual contact with rust, and he even disappears from their radars. there is an assumption that, perhaps, he landed somewhere for a short time, since he flew to moscow longer than it would have been.
rust appeared several times on the radars of the soviet air defense, but there was too much confusion. the fact is that then the ussr air defense system was reformed. it was divided into several districts to simplify the command. however, this is what led to chaos and inconsistency between the officers in charge of tracking. in a real situation, such as this, they no longer understood who was following what and where which district ends ... in addition, at some point, all air traffic on this segment was described as "friendly", that is, together with rust, and additional confusion arose with the identification of his aircraft.
since the air defense system confused itself, and rust continued to fly to moscow, in the next district he was considered "a domestic training aircraft that does not follow instructions" and attributed to minor threats.
of course, rust could not even imagine that such confusion would begin on the soviet side. and it is generally unclear whether he understood at that moment how incredibly lucky he was! anyway, at about 7 pm he appeared in the sky over moscow. as if what he had achieved was not enough, he still had an idea to land as much as possible inside the kremlin itself. however, then he changed his mind, as he decided that after landing within the walls of the kremlin they would immediately grab him, and the kgb would not be able to make this story public at all. so rust decided to land somewhere in a crowded place - on red square!
he flew over the red square and saw that it was full of people. then he realized that his idea was not good. he made another circle over the square and finally decided to sit on the nearby large moskvoretsky bridge not far from st. basil's cathedral.
he did it. he landed and drove along the road, stopping just a hundred meters from the red square! rust got out of his plane, but did not see the kgb, the military, or the security forces. ordinary passers-by walked by, who looked at him in surprise. he was asked who he was and where he came from. rust replied: "from germany." the people were surprised, but after the words that he flew from western germany, the surprise only intensified! the police detained him only two hours later.
on september 2, 1987 in moscow he was sentenced to four years in prison for "hooliganism, violation of air traffic rules and illegal crossing of the soviet border."
two months later, american president ronald reagan and soviet leader mikhail gorbachev signed a dirmd (this year the united states abandoned it).
what happened to mathias rust? he was released as early as august next year as a sign of goodwill to improve relations with the west. when he returned to germany, he said that he had been well treated in prison.
as i already wrote, this incident had serious consequences for the internal life of the ussr. gorbachev dismissed many high military officials, several hundred, including those who opposed his reforms. among them was the soviet minister of defense sergei sokolov, as well as the commander-in-chief of the air defense forces, alexander koldunov. so gorbachev carried out the largest purge in the armed forces since stalin!
rust's plane, on which he made an incredible flight, is now in berlin, where it is exhibited in the german technical museum.
rust continued his strange and unpredictable life. later he again had problems with the law. he once attacked a colleague who did not accept his advances. several times, in 2001 and 2005, he was tried for theft (once he stole a cashmere sweater). rust converted to hinduism, married in india. in 2009 he called himself a professional poker player, and in 2012 he was an analyst at an investment bank in zurich ...
it is clear that matias rust is not an ordinary person. he was and remains that way, but, being a young idealist, in that year 1987, with his insane flight, he, without realizing it, contributed to the collapse of the ussr. firstly, what happened was a shame on the reputation of the soviet army, from which it had not recovered, and secondly, gorbachev took advantage of the situation to eliminate his opponents.
the flight to moscow will be remembered as an event that happened at the very end of the cold war, that is, at a different time, and will serve as a reminder that idealism is capable of transcending the boundaries of the possible.
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