Soviet Union Four Years for a Fun Flight

Rust draws a stiff sentence for his Red Square lark

The defendant in the third-floor chamber of Moscow's Supreme Court building was the very model of youthful sobriety: hair neatly trimmed, blue suit and tie immaculate, testimony carefully punctuated by respectful expressions of "please" and "if I may." But several times in the course of his three- day trial last week, 19-year-old Mathias Rust came close to abandoning his otherwise expressionless demeanor. It happened whenever witnesses described his spectacular arrival in Moscow last May 28, when, after single-handedly piloting a Cessna 172 across 500 miles of heavily guarded Soviet territory, Rust buzzed the Kremlin and landed just off Red Square in...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

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