It was the eighties, wasn’t it? Near the end of the Cold War, this 19-year old kid flies solo this little Cessna plane all the way to Moscow and lands it right by the Red Square, next to the Kremlin!! (Scan-Foto: Lehtikuva Oy – source: nrk.no).
It was an unkind slap in the face of the impressive-sounding (but already suspected to be really inefficient) Soviet radar system. This fly had landed right on the tip of their nose… An article in Russia’s Pravda said it best in these words, in an article published in 2002: “This day 15 years ago: German pilot annihilated two persons: USSR defence minister and air-defence commander”. Hehe.
Well, thus came the end of an era of pretense in technological supremacy. It was the dawn of the Age of Sincerity – something was definitely going wrong there. Barely one year before, a little town near the Pripiat’ River in north-central Ukraine, Chernobyl, was making headlines… what a mess.
Mathias’ major contribution to the birth of democracy in Russia has never been sufficiently appraised. Perhaps it never will. But some of us will remember his daring flight fondly. It takes guts!
If you want to know what happened next, here’s a link to an interview made by Carl Wilkinson to Mathias, published by The Observer Magazine (The Guardian).