Saturday Scenes

Thu 2 June 2011

On a Wing and a Prayer

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 19:31

On the 28th of May in 1987, a 19-year old German flew a Cessna 172 to the Red Square. Matthias Rust departed from Helsinki and gave his destination as Stockholm. Ten minutes after take-off, he turned the plane 180 degrees to the east and turned his radio off. He was tracked by Soviet air defence during his flight from Finland to Moscow but, luckily for Rust, the surface-to-air missiles did not receive permission to shoot him down.

Matthias Rust’s Daring Flight – Iconic Photos

Matthias Rust spent his allowance to take 50 hours worth of flying lessons before embarking on an unauthorized flight from Helsinki to the heart of Moscow. Rust was picked up by radar. A Soviet fighter jet was in pursuit, but it could only communicate on military frequencies that Rust’s Cessna couldn’t receive. The Soviets assumed that he was either on a search-and-rescue mission or a student pilot. Six hours later, he made it to Moscow, and decided to land just outside the Kremlin walls. (He worried that if he had landed inside, the Soviets would arrest him and deny the whole thing). He landed by St. Basil’s Cathedral and taxied into the Red Square. Although he mingled with the people there – who thought he was part of an airshow – the KGB was also on spot to arrest him.

Rust was arrested for hooliganism and disregard of aviation laws. He was sentenced to four years in a labour camp but served his time in a temporary detention center. Mikhel Gorbachev arranged his release as a goodwill gesture in 1988. Matthias Rust never flew again.

In 2009, he described himself as a professional poker player. That makes sense. You’d have to be pretty good at bluffing to carry on flying into Russian airspace with two fighter aircraft flying alongside trying to make contact.

Twenty years later, he told a Danmarks Radio, “I think I would advise everyone to think twice before doing something like that. On the other hand, if someone is convinced about something, they need to do it.”

And on the 28th of May in 2011, the following photographs were taken by wonderful people doing what they need to do to make the world a little smaller:

And these are the daring submitters who won’t stop at anything for Saturday Scenes:

Why don’t you join us? It’s easy:

  1. Take a photograph on a Saturday
  2. Upload the photograph
  3. Send a tweet to @SatScenes with the url

I’m looking forward to seeing your Saturday Scene in the next edition!

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