East-West: The Mysterious Unmanned MiG

The Mysterious Unmanned MiG

Talk about automatic pilot. When two American F-15 jets rose to intercept an alien aircraft that was entering West German airspace at 9:42 a.m. last Tuesday, they encountered an empty Soviet MiG-23 fighter. Flying at an altitude of nearly 40,000 ft., the plane was without a pilot, and its canopy was gone. For fear of creating lethal falling debris, officials of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization refrained from ordering the craft shot down and instead told the U.S. pilots to escort it out to open sea. But the MiG ran out of fuel near the Belgian town of Kortrijk and crashed...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!