Every country has its outlaw heroes. Billy The Kid. Joan of Arc. Pancho Villa. In West Germany, there’s an outlaw hero you may not have heard of. His name’s Mathias Rust. And like most outlaw heroes, he seems to represent a certain old-school morality in a world gone bad. At the height of the cold war, the teenaged Rust was convinced the world was headed for global war.
Maybe he was a little full of himself, but Rust thought he could change things. So he rented a single engine plane and flew it past Russian air defenses. He made it all the way to Moscow, where he buzzed Lenin’s tomb and landed near Red Square. He earned some time in a labor camp, but in the end, the Russians couldn’t help cracking a smile. They pardoned him.
Hear him describe his amazing stunt on KUOW Presents.
More stories from KUOW Presents, Tuesday, January 29: