Mathias Rust, the West German who landed his light aircraft near Moscow's Red Square, said a Soviet MiG fighter came so close to his plane during his daredevil flight that he could see the crew's faces, the Mail on Sunday reported.
Speaking in an interview published by the newspaper, Rust described how the MiG circled his Cessna plane twice in Soviet air space during his May 1987 flight."Then I was frightened, all right. The MiG came so close I could see the crew's faces. For all I knew a heat-seeking guided missile might be the next thing," Rust said in the interview, billed by the Mail as an exclusive.
"I would have followed them if I had been told to. But they just looked at me twice and then flew off," Rust said, adding that he could not understand why he was not intercepted.
The Soviet Union released Rust, 20, on Wednesday from Moscow's Lefortovo prison, where he had served little over a quarter of a four-year sentence for malicious hooliganism and violation of flight and border laws, and put him on a plane to West Germany.
Rust described his interrogation by Soviet KGB agents as gruelling but perfectly correct. The KGB wanted to know if he was a spy for the West Germans or the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
"I kept telling them I had come only for peace to try to make things better," Rust said in the interview.
His motive in making the flight was to deliver to the Soviet Union and its leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, his own blueprint for a Utopia which he named "Langonia."
"It was my dream of course, that perhaps Mr. Gorbachev would see it. Whether he ever did I've no idea," Rust said of the 20-page manifesto that accompanied him on the solo flight.
He planned the trip in secret for months with navigation maps and calculators, which he kept hidden from his parents.
"It may seem hard to believe but it wasn't until I had landed my plane on the edge of Red Square and turned off the engine that I started to think about what I was going to do next or what might now happen to me," Rust said.
One word of advice he got from his lawyer before leaving the Soviet Union, Rust said, was:
"You are always most welcome in Russia. But next time please come on Aeroflot."