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Flights in Soviet Air Space Risky Tribute to 1987 Feat

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Reuters

A pilot flew a light aircraft into Soviet air space from Norway last weekend to mark the first anniversary of Mathias Rust’s sensational flight to the Kremlin, officials said today.

The man, 48-year-old Andreas Sommer, landed in the northern Finnish town of Ivalo after his flight and was allowed to leave Finland in his Cessna aircraft after being questioned, said a Major Erala of the Finnish border guard.

“He left Finland on Monday and is on his way home,” he said, adding that he believed Sommer to be an Austrian citizen born in Hamburg.

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“The only thing that stopped this guy being blown out of the sky by a MIG (Soviet fighter) was the fact that there is a summit going on,” a Norwegian government source said, referring to the talks in Moscow between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

Sommer had crossed into the Soviet Union on Saturday and again on Sunday, the second time for up to half an hour, Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokesman Lasse Seim told Reuters.

Seim said the pilot, in the same type of plane used by Rust, had been flying between Norway and Finland high in the Arctic Circle. “When we found out, we told the Soviets. But they knew already and lodged a protest,” Seim said.

The young West German pilot Rust flew to Moscow on May 28 last year, landing near the Kremlin wall. His feat earned him a four-year labor camp sentence and led to the downfall of former Soviet defense minister Sergei Sokolov and his air defense chief.

One government source described the weekend flights as “Russian roulette.”

“He took a risk that the Soviets would take it easy. He played Russian roulette--and luckily for him, he won.”

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