RAAF flew Mrs Petrov to Sydney

On this day, a RAAF transport played an unheralded role in the sensational defection of a diplomat from the Soviet Embassy in Canberra. Australians were shocked by filmed images of Mrs Evdokia Petrov, wife of the defecting diplomat, being hustled onto a commercial flight out of Sydney by two burly ‘escorts’ returning her to the Soviet Union. After establishing that Mrs Petrov wished to stay in Australia, Commonwealth officials intervened during the flight’s refuelling stop at Darwin and rescued her. She was placed on board a RAAF DC-3 and flown back to Sydney. With the press converging on likely landing points––Canberra, Mascot Airport or the RAAF base at Richmond––the aircraft put down into the now virtually unused ex-RAAF airfield at Schofields, which had been a Naval air station since 1953. Mrs Petrov was assisted down the aircraft steps, escorted to a car, and driven away through a back gate.

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