Kenneth Rowe, the aviator who steered a North Korean airplane to safety, passed away at the age of 90.

On a bright September morning in 1953, the workers at the US-run Kimpo Air Base near Seoul were shocked to spot an unknown warplane coming in from the north. Its wings were trembling, and lights were blinking as if the North Korean pilot, Lieutenant No Kum-Sok, was trying to tell them that he wasn’t there to attack. 

About fifteen minutes prior, he had steered away from a North Korean patrol and was heading to the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. He had pushed his MiG-15 to its limits and had reached a height of 23,000 feet over the DMZ before descending into South Korea at a speed of more than 600 mph. 

Luckily, the US radar system was down for maintenance at that time. So, when he landed at Kimpo, the snub-nose MiG almost collided with an F-86 Sabre that had just taken off from the other end of the runway. This was the beginning of his new life amidst Cold War politics and propaganda.