Alexander Zuyev

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Alexander Mikhailovich Zuyev (Russian: Александр Михайлович Зуев; 1961 – June 10, 2001) was a captain of the former-Soviet Air Force (VVS) who piloted his Mikoyan MiG-29 to Trabzon, Turkey on May 20, 1989.

Zuyev had married the daughter of the Chief-of-staff of the Air Division at the age of 25, and had applied to the test pilot school in Aktyubinsk due to his excellent performance but failed to get selected. Zuyev turned bitter about the rejection and when his marriage fell into difficulties, coupled with his personal doubts about the Soviet system, he decided to defect to the United States of America.[citation needed]


Zuyev was an interceptor pilot with the Baku PVO regiment at Gudauta, along the northwest coast of the Black Sea. The day before his defection he drugged his unit using a large amount of sleeping pills in a cake he baked. At this time a mechanic who came to shift change failed to awaken any of his comrades. Zuyev tried to disarm the mechanic, but failed, shot him with a pistol, wounding him in the process. The aircraft were almost ready and Zuyev took off on one of them. After takeoff, he had planned to shoot other aircraft on the ground, but failed because he forgot to remove one of the two locks on the gun. He then flew 150 miles (240 km) south across the Black Sea to Trabzon, Turkey, where the aircraft was impounded.

He was allowed to immigrate to the United States where he settled in San Diego, California and opened a consulting firm. Zuyev also wrote a book titled Fulcrum: A Top Gun Pilot's Escape from the Soviet Empire (ISBN 0-446-51648-1). Originally Zuyev faced criminal charges such as hijacking in the Turkish courts, but the charges were dismissed for political reasons.[1]

Life in the United States[edit]

On January 3, 1993, Zuyev revealed that the reason that Korean Air Lines Flight 007 succeeded in crossing over Kamchatka without being shot down was because Arctic gales had knocked out the Soviet radars on Kamchatka ten days previously.[2]

On June 10, 2001, Alexander Zuyev died along with another aviator, Jerry 'Mike' Warren, in a crash near Bellingham, Washington, USA when their Yakovlev Yak-52 entered and failed to recover from an accelerated stall.[3]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fulcrum: A Top Gun Pilot's Escape from the Soviet Empire, pp. 348-350.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "SEA01LA116". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 2009-04-19.