War between the Osean Federation and the Union of Yuktobanian Republics had broken out on 27 September with the Bombing of Saint Hewlett. These events followed three violations of Osean airspace by Yuktobania on the 23rd, 24th, and 27th.
Yuktobania attacked the Sand Island Air Force Base and the Basset Space Center from the air, and attacked the 3rd Osean Naval Fleet and Sand Island with its new submarine/aircraft carrier Scinfaxi. It was sunk during the attack on Sand Island.
On 15 October, the Scinfaxi's sister ship, the Hrimfaxi, was discovered in the Razgriz Straits by the Frederic Krister of the Republic of Emmeria Navy's 2nd Fleet. The news was kept confidential within the Emmerian government, but a hack by dataminers five days later exposed the information to a small handful of Emmerian citizens. Some were detained by the government for an indefinite period of time upon their capture. Of this handful, a 17-year-old named Mathias Belcher managed to avoid capture by the Emmerian government.
Mathias Belcher, born 13 July 1993 in Gracemeria, was raised in an abusive household. His father physically and verbally assaulted his siblings as well as himself, and was often absent from the family. His mother was an addict and could not care for the family. At a young age, his siblings and himself were placed in foster care, where he was separated from his siblings by his foster family, who lived in Ortara.
In school he was known to be rebellious and truant, yet received good grades in Science and Mathematics. In 2009, he received his instrument rating from his local flight club alongside his friend Henrik Rust, who had also had a rough childhood. When the Emmerian data breach occurred, Belcher contacted Rust the following day at school about bringing the details to the attention of the Osean Government for a profit, to which Rust agreed.
Over the next week, as the Osean President Vincent Harling went missing, plans drawn up by the two teenagers became more daring and more complex, with their final course of action involving the two flying a small aircraft from Gracemeria over Yuktobania for reconnaissance purposes, and then crash-landing in the Pacific Ocean to be rescued by the Osean Navy.
The teenagers secured two airline tickets to Gracemeria, with a departure date from Ortara on 1 November. They were not present in school on 31 October and reported missing that evening.
On 1 November, two teenagers boarded AirMeria Flight 6525 with service to Gracemeria, passing through security without a hitch. These two teenagers, Belcher and Rust, were undetected because they had false identification with them. In addition, both dyed their hair, and Rust shaved his eyebrows while Belcher had grown a beard (which he also dyed).
After having stayed in Gracemeria the previous evening, the teenagers visited several stores around Gracemeria, buying cameras, infrared lenses, orange jumpsuits, various items of food, various items of survival gear, and an English-Russian dictionary.
They checked out of their motel that evening and headed to Gracemeria International Airport, where security checks allowed them to pass, although it was registered that they had picked up an extra item of luggage. The two were driven to their flying club's hangar at the airport, where a Cessna 680 was waiting. They paid their fee and boarded the plane.
Rust was Captain during takeoff, while Belcher flew as his First Officer. The aircraft, with the registration EM-FDG, departed Gracemeria International Airport shortly at 22:50 local time. The aircraft was under VFR, and flew to an altitude of FL350 on an almost southerly bearing.
The Gracemeria departure controller spoke to EM-FDG for the last time at 22:59:33:
"Cessna, ah, foxtrot delta gulf, contact Gracemeria Center one one eight three five, good night."
The last transmission from the aircraft was by Belcher at 22:59:37, who responded with:
"One one eight point three five, Cessna foxtrot mike gulf, good day."
At this time, Rust turned off onboard radios, having never contacted Gracemeria ARTCC. At 23:01:14, the aircraft's radar signal was lost at FL350, 63.2 mi south of Gracemeria. The transponders had been switched off by Rust. The aircraft was still being tracked on both Emmerian and Yuktobanian military radar; while the Yuktobanian Air Force simply regarded it as an aircraft with a faulty transponder, the Emmerian Air Force and Coast Guard immediately noticed a problem. Due to logistical problems and poor communication, the Emmerian Air Force would not launch a search mission until after the aircraft's crash four and a half hours later.
Entering Yuktobanian Airspace
Rust flew the aircraft over the Fuscum Sea while Belcher changed into his jumpsuit and tested the cameras and laptop in the cabin. During the Fuscum Sea segment, the aircraft ducked in and out of Emmerian military radar. The aircraft entered Yuktobanian airspace at 23:50:15. Emmerian military radar lost lost contact with the aircraft over the Olekminsk range at 00:37:04.
During this time, Belcher returned to the cockpit, where he discussed a change in flight plan with Rust. Having learned of the Osean Invasion of the Bastok Peninsula the day before, Rust and Belcher decided that the aircraft should head for the Peninsula, instead of a ditching as previously planned.
After midnight, Belcher took over the aircraft as Captain while Rust changed his clothes and activated the laptop and cameras.
Cinigrad and Cruik
At 01:13:56, the aircraft descended to a very low altitude of 5,000 ft ASL outside of Cinigrad. The aircraft was not visible to Cinigrad Air Traffic Control, neither on radar nor visually, as the aircraft did not have any lights on. The YAF, confused after the attack on Bastok and the subsequent attack on the College at Dresdene, did not organize its resources quickly enough to intercept the aircraft as it overflew Cinigrad at a dangerously low altitude.
During this time, Rust was able to photograph Cinigrad, and the photographs were stored to two flash drives connected to the laptop. Belcher gained altitude. The aircraft enterd Cruik Fortress's airspace at 01:29 at an altitude of 30,000 ft, and orbited it as Rust photographed the fortress. The YAF stationed at the fortress had been redeployed to Bastok only seven hours prior, and could not intercept the aircraft. The SAMs were reluctant to shoot down the aircraft for fear of reprecussions. The aircraft left Cruik's airspace at 01:36.
At 01:40, after powering down the laptop, Rust re-entered the cockpit, and after a short conversation, Belcher turned the aircraft on a southwesterly path to Bastok. During this time, the aircraft ducked in and out of YAF radar, while Belcher and Rust carried casual conversations about their home lives, the war, and the dangerous information that the laptop now possessed.
At 02:05, the aircraft entered airspace over Glubina, outside of the YAF's radar coverage. It was during this time that Rust noticed lights on the ground, and after briefly consulting a map, decided that it was a military target. Belcher dropped altitude rapidly, and when he leveled out three minutes later, Rust again powered on the laptop and cameras, and photographed what would later be found as the POW camp at Glubina. The aircraft departed Glubina's airspace at 02:17.
At 02:30, Belcher brought the issue of fuel to Rust's attention:
"Uh, Rik, we only have fuel for another hour. I mean, if we do some well-executed gliding, we might still be able to land at Bastok."
"Sure, but what if something else comes up?"
Belcher's response was eerie:
"Well..we'll just have to land on the Osean side, then."
The aircraft cruised along in silence and in darkness at 35,000 ft for another 45 minutes. During this time, the YAF had reacquired EM-FDG, but feared repercussions at shooting it down. Also, the OADF had engaged fighters further south of Sonza, so much of the YAF's attention was focused there.
At 03:01:54, the aircraft appeared on OADF radar. Reports of a missing civilian aircraft had reached the OADF, but they did not intercept due to presumed hostile airspace.
At 03:11, the aircraft overflew Sonza, where Belcher had remembered seeing a factory, a radar net, and a runway via satellite imagery. Due to reasons of fuel, the aircraft could not descend to photograph the factory, so Rust was only able to capture a few, hazy photographs of the factory and the radar net.
The aircraft left Sonza's airspace at 03:15.
Crash-landing at Dresdene
At 03:20, Rust replaced Belcher as pilot in command. Belcher went to the cabin and checked the photographs. In total, 25 photographs were taken, and placed with the Hrimfaxi's location information. This information was copied to the two flash drives, which were then removed from the computer by Belcher. The computer and cameras were packed away in a suitcase.
Belcher returned to the cockpit with coffee for himself and Rust, and he gave one of the flash drives to Rust:
"This is it, man, the most valuable plastic stick of your life. Keep this in a safe place. I'll keep mine under my watch."
"These suits have inner pockets. I'll keep mine there."
Shortly after this conversation, the aircraft's engines ceased to function due to fuel exhaustion, and the aircraft began a powerless, controlled descent out of 35,000 ft. The YAF and the OADF noticed the drop in altitude. Both nations blamed the other for a shootdown.
Rust was able to descend and slow the aircraft down to a survivable airspeed, and crash-landed the aircraft in a valley in Dresdene at 03:27 after over four and a half hours of flight. The OADF immediately scrambled fighters and helicopters to the location, where Belcher and Rust were found transmitting a distress signal whilst eating a midnight snack.
The two teenagers were detained by the OADF and taken to Bastok. The aircraft's black boxes were recovered, and the registration noted. While the fuselage, engines, and rudder remained intact, the wings had separated from the aircraft, and the undercarriage had broken. The aircraft was written off.
At Bastok, the two teenagers were interrogated separately, and both revealed only their identities. The Osean government, upon realizing that they were the missing teenagers, almost extradited them to Emmeria when they revealed that they were carrying military secrets. The Osean government analysed their flight pattern, which they found consistent with the claims of the teenagers.
A negotiator was brought in, where the teenagers requested 363,000 zollars each, a clean slate with Osean authorities, with Yuktobanian authorities, and with Emmerian authorities. Their demands were not accepted, and they remained in Osean custody until the next day, 4 November, when the terrorist attacks in Oured and Bana City deemed such sensitive military information desirable by the Osean government. Their demands were met, and they were flown back to Ortara on 9 November.
They were hailed as heroes in Osea, while being hated in Yuktobania. The Emmerian government immediately issued a statement of neutrality, affiliating itself with neither Yuktobania or Osea. They were detained by the Emmerian government for four years, and were released in 2014 after serving time in a medium-security prison.