On May 28th 1987, at the age of 19, the German amateur pilot Mathias Rust landed his Cessna on Moscow's Red Square in front of the Kremlin. Without any military training, he'd managed to slip through the iron curtain, unnoticed by the Warsaw Pact's vast array of radar stations and air patrols. This embarassed the USSR a great deal, and Rust was put to trial and sentenced to 4 years in prison.

In the West, he became a celebrity, his flight was taken as a symbol for world peace and the act of a visionary free thinker. In the essay The Cyberpunk: The Individual as Reality, Timothy Leary mentioned him (together with Mark Twain and Christopher Columbus) as an example of a cyberpunk (which he defined as an exceptional individual who governs his own life).

Unfortunately, all this hype proved to be rather unfounded (or perhaps it was self-defeating). Rust was released after only 14 months, enjoyed his fame for a while, but then he stabbed a girl who had rejected him - prison again. Then he traveled to the USA and married a Polish woman, but they broke after short time. Rust returned to Russia to visit an orphanage for which he had become the patron. He disappeared for two years, worked as a shoe salesman. In 1996 he declared personal bankruptcy, unable to pay the fees for a lawsuit against a newspaper he'd lost 1991. A short time later, he announced that he would marry again, this time the daughter of a rich Indian tea merchant. Recently, he was fined for shoplifting in a department store in Hamburg.