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The dangers of flying to West Berlin during the Cold War

Posted in Aviation, Famous news stories, Historical articles on Thursday, 9 January 2014

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This edited article about the Cold War first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 505 published on 18 September 1971.

Nightmare over Germany, picture, image, illustration

Nightmare over Germany for a famous media personality by Wilf Hardy

A small dot erupted out of the clouds over Eastern Germany. British television star, Hughie Green, flying his Cessna twin-engined plane to Berlin, kept his eye on the spot as it grew larger and took the form of a Russian MiG fighter.

Green was not all that worried. Although he was flying over Communist territory, he was keeping rigidly to the centre of a 20 mile wide air corridor reserved for planes going to Berlin. To stray on to Soviet air space was asking for trouble, and he had not done that.

When the Russian fighter began rocking its wings and turning off to the right to indicate that Green should follow and land in Communist territory, Green ignored the hint. And he refused to be alarmed when the MiG flew alongside very close with the pilot pointing his thumb ominously at the ground.

Green flew on. At this, the MiG seemed to light up. Stabs of flame appeared on the wings and tracer bullets curled towards Green’s Cessna. The Russian was determined to get Green down to the ground, and when these bullets failed to budge him from his course, a new menace appeared.

This was a larger Russian jet fighter – a Yak 25 – which climbed to about 5,000 ft. above the Cessna. At this height, it streaked in a dive to lay a supersonic bang right in front of the Cessna.

The violent turbulence thrust the Cessna so far to the right that it almost flipped on to its back. Then one of the engines stopped and the Cessna began to lose height. Green got the engine going again and a second sonic boom decided him. He signalled to the Russians that they had won.

They raced off, expecting him to follow. But Berlin was only 27 miles away . . . . and Green pushed his throttles wide open and belted to Berlin – and safety!

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