West German Mathias Rust's landing in Red Square

Posted On: Saturday - May 27th 2023 6:40PM MST
In Topics: 
  General Stupidity  The Russians  History

This happened 36 years ago tomorrow - we hardly ever post on Sundays, though.

Well, it's not a very round numbered anniversary, but we didn't think about it last year and who knows what we'll be blogging about 4 years from now?

Peak Stupidity has a thing for these wild men and their daring deeds in their flying machines or exits therefrom. We celebrated DB Cooper's jump out of the back of a Boeing 727 at night through the clouds in Washington State just north of Portland, Oregon 50 years later, to the minute! Then, we blogged about Larry Walters and his flight up to 16,000 ft. over the Los Angeles basin in a lawn chair held aloft by weather balloons, 40 years after the day.

It's time for another anniversary of the exploits of a another somewhat nutty young man. 18 y/o German Mathias Rust flew a rented Reims* P-model Cessna 172 and landed it in Red Square in the heart of downtown Moscow on the Thursday May 28th of 1987. Red Square, in a simlar fashion as Tienanmen Square (also a "red square" in a couple of ways) in the heart of Peking China, was near the Kremlin, Command Central of Mother Russia. Well, it was the USSR still, as the Cold War was still ongoing in 1987. (This is why I used the term "West German" in the post title. There was a big difference then!)

He could have been shot out of the sky but for a number of factors, confusion - his small primary-radar echo was thought to have possibly just been a flight of geese, some hesitation and perhaps mercy - a request for permission to engage by interceptors was denied - and then a loss of radar coverage by the Soviets.

Per the Aviation Geek website, with a nice retrospective on the event - The story of Mathias Rust, the German teenager who humiliated the Soviet War Machine by landing his Cessna 172 in Moscow’s Red Square - things would have gone a lot worse for young Mr. Rust had this been the "deepest, darkest" days of the Cold War. It'd call them the 1950's through 60's, but that is arguable. (That's what the comment section is all about, people.)

This was a crazy stunt, but it's not why I think Mathias Rust was a nut, like Lawnchair Larry and, more so, D.B. Cooper. He was young and very inexperienced (50 hours under his belt), so he could be a bold pilot. Experienced or not, the nuttiness is that Mr. Rust, before this Moscow flight, had spent a lot of time flying over cold, cold water and large stretches of it in a single piston-engined plane. He'd flown over the North Sea to Scotland, the Faroe Islands, and even Iceland. He'd flown from Keflavik, Iceland to Bergen, Norway in one leg, of which 600-odd nautical miles were over water. He had ferry tanks placed where the back seat normally is, as some of his routes (including his famed one) surely required it. That one stretch, at at 110 knots airpeed, would have been 4-6 hours, depending on the winds aloft. (That engine burns ~ 7 gallons/hour when leaned out at altitude. The normal tanks hold 38 G useable, so at 4 hours, one should be on the way down to an airport.)

One should keep in mind that GPS was not available to aircraft in 1987, with light aircraft being lucky to have them by the mid-1990s. This matters a lot for the overwater flying for 2 reasons:

1) One must have good ded reckoning skills or he will be Dead, Reckoning.

2) Were one going down into the water after an engine failure or fuel starvation, even if miraculously ditching succesfully and not succumbing to drowning and/or hypothermia, and he got off a MayDay all, he'd be doing well to report an position accurate to 50 miles. That's a HUGE area to be searched. It scare me just thinking about it.

The famous flight started at Helsinki:

Anyway, that May 28th in '87, Mr. Mathias took off from Helsinki's Malmi field just after Noontime, telling the tower and/or departure controllers he was heading west to Stockholm. Instead he turned east after a short while, quit talking on the radio, and was then out of radar contact by Espoo, Finland, on the northern shore of the fairly narrow Bay of Finland. He crossed the Estonian coastline, flying low out of the setting sun , no, hell the sun doesn't set till 10:20 P there. Even with his extra fuel tanks, he'd might have been out by then.

One can read elsewhere about the story of the Soviet defenses and such. Mathias Rust made his landing at Red Square about 7P local time. Moscow is in the same time-zone as Helsinki, so that was a nearly 7 hour flight.

The Aviation Geek article describes the Soviet take on the matter this way:
The fact a Western Sport pilot could sneak into the Soviet Union and land in front of the Kremlin at the very heart of the Soviet Empire resonated far beyond Soviet Borders. All the Billions of Rubles spent on Soviet Air Defenses, and the very existence of the Soviet Air Defense Forces (PVO) appeared to be a gigantic waste of money. After all, how could the Soviet Military defend the Rodina (Motherland) from Western Air Attack if they couldn’t even stop a 50-hour Private Pilot in the world’s most common light aircraft? However, the events of that flight showed both a liberalizing trend within the Soviet System, and a mishmash of command-and-control miss-coordination which resulted in Rust’s Cessna being allowed to continue flying all the way to the heart of the Soviet Empire.
Hmmm, I detect shades of the Chinese "weather balloon" story.

Mr. Rust was arrested and put on trial 4 months later, in September of '87 (much better treatment for him than for our own Political Prisoners, I'd say). He was sentenced to 4 years in a labor camp for hooliganism - "hooliganism", what CAN'T that cover?! - and for disregard of aviation laws, and for breaching the Soviet border. He wasn't put in a labor camp, just a normal prison that I'm sure was safer than a modern American one, and then he got out in just under a year, as a goodwill gesture by the USSR after the signing of the latest nuclear missle treaty by Reagan and Gorbachev.

Mr. Rust and the Skyhawk:

Per his Wiki bio Mr. Mathias' later life had some serious problems, just as with Mr. Walters, and, well, forget Mr. Cooper, as it's doubful he had a later life.
While doing his obligatory community service (Zivildienst) in a West German hospital in 1989, Rust stabbed a female co-worker who had rejected him. The victim barely survived. He was convicted of injuring her and sentenced to two and a half years in prison, but was released after 15 months. Since then he has lived a fragmented life, describing himself as a "bit of an oddball". After being released from court, he converted to Hinduism in 1996 to become engaged to a daughter of an Indian tea merchant. In 2001, he was convicted of stealing a cashmere pullover and ordered to pay a fine of 10,000 DM, which was later reduced to 600 DM. A further brush with the law came in 2005, when he was convicted of fraud and had to pay a €1,500 fine. In 2009 Rust described himself as a professional poker player. Most recently, in 2012, he described himself as an analyst at a Zurich-based investment bank.
It takes an oddball to do these sorts of stunts, but the world appreciates a few oddballs. Peak Stupidity sure does, anyway.

Aviation Geek relates this homor out of the Soviet people after the political embarrassment of Mathias Rust's flight of diplomacy to Moscow.
After Mathias Rust’s landing in Red Square, Muscovites joked the place was now Sheremetyevo 3, as Sheremetyevo 1 and 2 Airports are still Moscow’s primary international airports.
Nice flying, Mathias Rust!

* Reims is the variant that was built in France, under liscense from Cessna Aircraft (of Wichita, Kansas).

[UPDATED 05/29:]
Corrected direction of Keflavik to Bergen flight and associated winds aloft time enroute or over water.

Wednesday - May 31st 2023 3:11AM MST
PS: "If Ted Cruz is right (in the vid I've linked to) the Trumper did make a considerable difference at the border, compared to presidential hologram Joe Biden." Oh, he did, no doubt, Mr. Kief. VDare was all over it way before Ted Cruz.

However, it was all behind-the-scenes moves that were reversed the first days of Bai Dien's Presidency. It's not supposed to work like that. You've got to get law made and tangible things built - such as a decent border barrier - that was definitely not about having enough money.
Dieter Kief
Tuesday - May 30th 2023 11:01PM MST
Mod. - the German Oddballity of Mr. Rust is rooted in that in Germany he bathes in higher amounts of narcissism + individualism and not much outside of that day in day out: In the media, but also in everyday life.
In Switzerland those oddballs - have - - Switzerland to be proud of: The Flag, the national anthem, the 8th of may as a day that integrates oddballs too - in festivities, speeches parades etc. pp. - they thus are a tad more community oriented and a tad less ME-ME-ME. And in these fields, tads do matter.
As Erich Fromm (and Steve Sailer time after time!) wrote: Mental sanity does reflect the collective state of mind (and the actions of oddballs are a function of the collctive state of mind).

What the CNN-crowd is concerned: I'd assume they tried to make it as Trump-opposed as they could, but the Trumper is able to cut right trough such shananigans. The youngwomen they set up against him - - - I'm sur htey tsted her rhethorical attacks in minute detail before - - - but to no effect either...

If Ted Cruz is right (in the vid I've linked to) the Trumper did make a considerable difference at the border, compared to presidential hologram Joe Biden.

I wouldn't touch the courts in this contxt because that too looks full of - - -juridical mines (foul play after foul play ...).

I did write a bit unter the Unz Hanania article...but it is nothing else than what I wrote here - - -
Tuesday - May 30th 2023 9:14PM MST
PS: As brought up by Mr. Hail: Mr. Kief,, I don't recall any comments from you under that Ron Unz article about the silly Richard Hanania fake-dinner-party article. It may not be all vanity out of Mr. Unz when he touts being written about by a guy with, GASP!, 140 million twitter hits(?). He wrote a comment, down near the bottom at this point, that said he is just glad for this opportunity to get his opinions out into mainstream. That includes his America-Dun-It! COVID-19 theory, OF COURSE! (He is so stuck on that one.)

The Seattle and Portland (also Minneapolis) thing, with White areas having more rioting than, say, San Antonio is something that I'm almost positive Mr. Sailer wrote about too. (Possibly it was just in a comment of his - will be hard for me to find.) I see Mr. Hanania basing a conclusion that large-scale Hispanic immigration is just peachy due to this factor is not something I give any credence to. I don't think Hanania knows WTF is going on and especially WTF HAS been going on in this country,

I'm glad I didn't have to see the fiasco by Ron DeSantis in the restaurant. I'll take your word on this that it wasn't a good look., Yes, Donald Trump is very good with people, those on his side, that is. So? He has a track record that is not good, and not all of it can be blamed on evil judges. DeSantis has a good track record in Florida. That's what I care about. Yes, the betting markets are supposed to be good - Mr. Hail discussed them in a very recent post.)

I write here mostly about WHY I'd like DeSantis to get a chance to get in the top office, but I guess I'm not that interested in the two men's personalities' effects on the voters. I suppose I should be.
Tuesday - May 30th 2023 7:39PM MST
PS: Mr. Hail, I remember that nobody, but nobody, (that I ever heard from anyway, back when I read newspapers and watched TV news) saw the ending of the USSR even a couple of years earlier. That just goes to show how useless the "intelligence" community and the pundit-statesmen you mentioned are.

I agree that without Gorbachev, all the rest of those factors would not have brought everything down. Gorbachev etched a few cracks into the system, and they grew very quickly.

As for the Ukraine, no, I would think the Ukrainians were a lot closer to being "Russians" than most other provinces, the Stans, of course, but also Georgia, etc. Maybe Belarus would have been. If anything the Ukrainians should hold a major grudge about the millions of their recent ancestors who'd been starved by the Soviets. You hear nothing about that during this war. So, they do realize modern Russia ≠ The USSR.
Tuesday - May 30th 2023 7:31PM MST
PS: Dieter, what is the difference that would have the Swiss oddball not performing a stunt like German Mathias Rust did, if it was not a personality difference?

Dieter Kief
Tuesday - May 30th 2023 10:24AM MST
Mr. hail - - -about R. Hanania - he is respected by high IQ man Steve Hsu - - - that's an aspect.
b) Ron Unz likes it to be promoted to the mainstream - - - Hanania has caught the attention of high power man Elon Musk - - so - - - .
Hanania is young - - - a super-rare bird in the UNZ universe.

Plus: He is an immigrant, who is doing well. And he sure can stirr up some - - -attention - - . And he does not have only stupid arguments. What he says about Seattle and Portland is - - stunningly correct on the descriptive side - - -and very interesting in itself. - So: Here you go!

I also found, that he does get why DeSantis does ho-hum on the betting market you lend an eye to lately, whereas TRump soars - - - .
Look at the DeSantis-scne in this restaurant - - with which he kicks off his campaign!!! A nightmare. IF a candidate performs this underwhelmingly, his team at least should have the guts to dump this scene. No?

One more: Trump's CNN-town-hall answer to that nice middle aged lady with maybe 30 kg or so too much on her hips what should be done in the actual US-energy crisis - - - and Trump's answer, that was - - : Perfect. This lady shone like a star for a few seconds afterwards. Pure magic - - - (now Our Lady of the Forest reappears in my mind - Guterson seems to have occupied a permanent lot there with two of his books - the one I mentioned and - - the SillyCone Valley story Ed King (he could have also named this one: King Crimson, hehe).
Tuesday - May 30th 2023 6:54AM MST

SafeNow wrotoe: "...Ron Unz calling himself a bit of a detailist..."

What do people think is Ron Unz's angle on his recent promotion of the strange early-2020s political-scene-figure that is Richard Hanania?
Tuesday - May 30th 2023 6:53AM MST

Mr. Kief wrote:

"Rust is not only an autist, but also a self-centered/narcissistic man (=very zeitgeisty figure, unfortunately - see Mr. Hail's and my remarks about narcissism and aggression."

note --- These comments are under Peak-Stupidity entry-2619. I may use them as a basis for something I post to HailToYou.wordpress.com later.
Tuesday - May 30th 2023 6:25AM MST

- On Ukraine, Russia, and dangerous political games -

Dieter Kief wrote:

"ideas to assassinate Putin...as Henry Kissinger told the German weekly DIE Zeit last week indirectly - - a wrong deed. Kissinger in the footsteps of John Mearsheimer: The personalisation of superpower-conflicts is no rational behavior."

Russia has always been a complicated place, and we of the West have traditionally looked down on Russia as a system which, to quote a once-popular phrase, ran on the principle of: "autocracy, tempered by assassination."

(The Austrian Empire was, by contrast, "an autocracy tempered by inconsistency," according to the same 19th-century pundit-wag.)

In the West, there were also sometimes assassinations and other "accoutrements" of "personalization of politics," but they did not define the system. The whole system seemed much different --- and 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century Westerners almost always looked down on the Russian system for its tendencies, even though some number of them knew Russia was more complicated than that, there was this "autocracy tempered by assassination" layer to it.

The Ukraine War represents a clear break in that traditional thinking, to me. Ukraine is, for practical purposes, a rogue-state --- and we've known it to be for years. The crazy attempt to create of Ukraine a client-state or protectorate of NATO/USA was originally an Obama project, and was crazy then and is crazier still now.

It doesn't necessarily require Western intelligence or clandestine-military direct involvement for the case to be made to make this a bad idea. The West (via the USA) treats Ukraine like a most-favored client-state (if not like a NATO and EU member outright), and Ukraine is even more of an "autocracy tempered by assassination" than today's Russia is. We traditionally regard as uncivilized and unworthy of White-Christian fraternal conduct, but Traditional Western-Christian Man no longer seems to run the show in the West.
Tuesday - May 30th 2023 6:03AM MST

- The May 1987 stunt in timeline of dissolution of USSR -

Scholars have debated the timeline of the "fall of the USSR" since the early 1990s, and over thirty year the best (most dispassionate) analyses seem to have done a good job reconstructing it.

The short-summary version of these is that the USSR had similar problems to the Russian Empire of pre-1917 days.

According to these, May 1987 is still at the beginning of the process that unwound the USSR and its empire of dependent states. The first sign of things to come is identified by many scholars as ethnic riots in Kazakhstan in December 1986.

By 1988, there were active movements all over the place that grew into the big ones of 1989, 1990, 1991 -- so much so that in retrospect it does seem the USSR was finished already in 1988.

Of course no one knew it at the time, in 1987, '88, even up to summer '89, that the USSR was finished. Even the "heavies" like Zbig Brezinski and George Kennan were writing as of 1990 about the USSR without hint that it was going to fall apart and Russia reduced to second-tier status. (I can't now remember the date of Zbig Brezinski writing one of his typical angry anti-Russia essays in some important place in 1990 saying how Russia will be the main enemy or rival of the USA for decades to come.)

A lot of little events in 1985, 1986, 1987 will have contributed to the momentum that the nationalist movements of the Soviet sphere "prison-house of nations" attained in 1988-89-90-91. (Actually, even in Germany a small nationalist wave was seen in this period.)

A much bigger such event was of course Chernobyl in 1986; then there was a particularly horrific train disaster in central Russia with numbers killed in the high hundreds and the blame seeming to go on shoddy work attributable to the communist system. There are many others.

None of these little events can individually substitute for the role of Gorbachev as catalyst. Ultimately the galvanization of, success of (in the political field), and the lack of repression against, the dozens of ethno-national movements across the Soviet sphere is what did it.

Interestingly enough, though, and as a coda to this discussion, one place that was virtually absent from the ranks of anti-Soviet ethno-national movements of that period was: Ukraine. At best Ukraine were very-late comers.
Dieter Kief
Monday - May 29th 2023 11:25PM MST
Matthias Rust did something impressive. A world historical footnote (if not: event) like this, once successfully executed, can't be revoked. The genie of the Soviet Union's relative defenselessness was there to be looked on, at the Kremlin, for the world to know. Btw.: The drone attack, accompanied by ideas to assassinate Putin- some say a secret service attack by the British MI 6, is at least in part an echo of Matthias Rust's flight - and - as Henry Kissinger told the German weekly DIE Zeit last week indirectly - - a wrong deed. Kissinger in the footsteps of John Mearsheimer: The personalisation of superpower-conflicts is no rational behavior. As is the idea to put Putin to trial before the European Human Rights court. Beware: John Mearsheimer (and Henry Kissinger) oppose such ideas, because these ideas are .n.o.t. .r.e.a.l.i.s.t.i.c. In other words: They are inspired by the narcissistic zeitgeist. - Apropos: The thing with psychos like Matthias Rust is, that they don't necessarily suffer from one neatly describable condition. Which means: Thomas Rust is not only an autist, but also a self-centered/narcissistic man (=very zeitgeisty figure, unfortunately - see Mr. Hail's and my remarks about narcissism and aggression - - - and 5 Kg HITLER-cocaine bars as they are delivered to Bruxelles now, where a huge part of the EU-bureaucracy is located - - -and the hopelessly narcissistic EU_govenment - - - in bed with Cocaine narcissist par excellance Volodymyr Selensky).

Chapter two would have indeed to shed more light on the obvious oddballity of Matthias Rust's character, as Mr. Mod. pointed out already above. One shortcut I want to make in this direction: A Swiss man with the same personality like Matthias Rust would not have flown to Moscow and would not have landed on the Red Square. And he would not have only by accident missed out at killing a girlfriend.

Next shortcut: Erich Fromm: The Sane Society. - Fromm's idea works also the other way around and it then helps explains the societal insanity that constitutes the German citizen Matthias Rust.
Sunday - May 28th 2023 5:27PM MST
PS: You're welcome, SafeNow. "That’s like Babe Ruth calling himself a bit of a ballplayer; Ron Unz calling himself a bit of a detailist." Haha, it's also like Ron Unz calling himself a bit of an oddball, come to think of it.
Sunday - May 28th 2023 3:11PM MST
Fascinating story, thanks so much, Brave guy, but LOL at how he described himself as “a bit” of an oddball. That’s like Babe Ruth calling himself a bit of a ballplayer; Ron Unz calling himself a bit of a detailist.
Sunday - May 28th 2023 1:28PM MST
PS: Yes, Narsarsuaq was to be the first stopping point, on the west side of Greenland, THEN the 9,000 ft high ice cap and overwater to Reykjavik. Now, my comment below might make more sense!

I remember the HF was for back-up, in case you couldn't get an airliner to relay a position report, but anyway the Canadians required it, along with 3 hours extra fuel and the other equipment, as they were the ones who were supposed to try to rescue you.

As for the ADF, I remember flying over Washington State, and tuning the ADF to a Mexican radio station from Los Angeles to keep me up at night, close to 2,000 miles away. Sure enough, the needle pointed south to LA!
The Alarmist
Sunday - May 28th 2023 1:27PM MST

I don’t know what I’d prefer, but a Marlin 1895S 45/70 is what I had.

I saw a huge stuffed polar bear in a museum in Oslo, and it makes one wonder if that would be enough. I’d prefer to not test that.
Adam Smith
Sunday - May 28th 2023 10:45AM MST
PS: Good afternoon, gentlemen,

Cool stories. Thanks!

Mr. Alarmist, I'm curious what sort of rifle you prefer for self defense against polar bears.

Happy Sunday!

The Alarmist
Sunday - May 28th 2023 7:06AM MST

I had the suit, a rifle (polar bears), a few other things, and a portable HF rig, but passed more than a few reports relay via airliners on 123.45MHz.

CYYR to BIRK is more than 1,300 nm. I stopped at BGBW (Narsarsuaq), a bit more than halfway. BIRK-EGPO is comfortably circa 580nm.

Uetersen to the Faeros is roughly 740nm over open water, so quite a lot of room to get lost without good nav gear.

I was shooting touch and goes one day, with my ADF radio tuned to a local rock station, and they played The Cars “Touch and Go.” Classic.
Sunday - May 28th 2023 5:57AM MST
PS: I am impressed by those trips, Alarmist. I assume you had the HF radio installed, the exposure suit, and all of that.

I was prepared to make a trip like that, eastbound. Gander or Goose Bay across 300 nm or so of water to Reykjavik, then Reykjavik across the ice cap and then 370 nm of water (going by recollection), to be be the longest overwater stretch, to Iceland, then the Faroes, then Scotland, etc.

The trip got nixed last minute for insurance reasons of something, and I was very disappointed to miss this trip of a lifetime. We took a 1 day class in Nashua, New Hampshire with an old guy named Carlson who'd done this sort of ferrying flight 80 times or something. He'd sign his letters with "Right Rudder" at the bottom.

Yeah, the old NDB's (with ADF radio) were crude but had a long range. One could follow a course (unless there wasn't one - don't know about the Faroe Islands), but how far one was along the course, and whether 10 miles off the side or what - worst when far from the station - means they could get you there, but you wouldn't know very accurately your location.

Dead reckoning is only as good as the wind forecasts, even if you are very good. Shooting the stars would be my thing too, as I had a hobby of Astronomy.

The Alarmist
Sunday - May 28th 2023 3:54AM MST

We jokingly referred to the C-172P as the worlds only proven Soviet AD penetrator of our times.

I’ve done the North Atlantic crossing a few times in a light single, and it gives one pause each time you point the aircraft put to open water, either at Goose Bay or Stornoway. I wouldn’t have thought in pre-GPS days to go direct to the Faroes, but hey, what the heck.

I was invited in the ‘80s to join a 15 metre boat crew in Spain for a sail to the US based not on any meaningful sailing experience, rather because I knew how to “shoot the stars,” a skill in rapid decline as LORAN and INS became increasingly used. Dead reckoning is just fine until you reckon wrong.
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