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On January 14th, 1975, Major Peter Makowicka, aged 33, was on a training mission with his Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG 21 plane. During approach on the military airbase Cottbus, German Democratic Republic (Eastern Germany), the plane experienced an open cover latch on the engine compressor section, which had been insufficiently secured by a maintenance technician. The engine switched off.
Immediately after the distress, the military control center ordered the pilot to deploy the ejection seat to save himself and to let the plane go down. But Major Makowicka disobeyed, instead he pulled up to prevent the plane from crashing into the TKC (Textile Combinate Cottbus) with its thousands of workers, intending to let the plane crash into an empty field instead. There was no time to get that far away. In the residential area behind the factory site, the aircraft grazed the roof of a building and at 10.15 am pierced a “Plattenbau” (a 5-story large-panel system building) across the street. Mackovicka and five women were killed on the spot.
Major Peter Makowicka, likely the only NVA (National People’s Army) hero ever to disobey an order, posthumously received the Kampforden für Verdienste um Volk und Vaterland in Gold (Combat medal for the merits for the People and Fatherland) and other awards.