The day Mathias Rust landed in Moscow – level 3


In the 1980s, the world was still divided into the East and the West, and the Cold War was in progress.

In 1986, a meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev took place in Iceland. It seemed that better times could come after this meeting. However, both politicians didn’t agree on anything important.

18-year-old Mathias Rust from West Germany didn’t understand that and he decided to do something about it. He wanted to create an “imaginary bridge” between the East and the West.

The following year, Mathias waited for nice spring weather. He told his parents that he was going on a 2-week trip around Scandinavia. Then he rented a single-engine plane at an airport near Hamburg.

On May 13, 1987, he set out on the first part of the journey. He flew to Iceland, then to Norway, and finally to Finland. There he stayed in a hotel, refueled, and prepared for the last part of his journey – a flight to Moscow.

He was going to fly through one of the most guarded airspaces on the planet without permission. The fighter planes could shoot him down at any moment. For the first hour, he flew over the Soviet Union unnoticed. Then a fighter plane was sent to him, but it flew away after a few minutes. The fighter planes flew to him twice more, but each time they flew away again. Why they never tried to stop him remains a mystery.

On May 28, 1987, in the late afternoon, Mathias came to Moscow and began circling over Red Square. People couldn’t believe their eyes. The plane had a West German flag painted on its side. The plane seemed to be trying to land. In the end, Mathias was able to land.

He was arrested and sentenced to 4 years in prison. After 14 months, however, he was released and sent back to West Germany.

Difficult words: set out (to start), refuel (to fill with fuel before continuing), permission (when you can do something), unnoticed (not seen), remain (to stay), sentence (to send to prison).

What inspired Mathias Rust to take such a daring flight and what were the consequences of his actions in both the East and the West?


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