CZECHOSLOVAKIA: A Do-It-Yourself Escape

As a former world stunt-flying champion, Ladislaw Bezak, 39, had two advantages possessed by few other defection-bound citizens of Czechoslovakia: he is a licensed pilot and he owns a small, single-engine monoplane called the Zlin-226, which he and a friend had built from do-it-yourself plans and spare parts. He also had a couple of formidable problems: how to fit his four young sons, his wife and himself into an aircraft designed for two, and how to reach the West German border 75 miles away without being shot down by the Czechoslovak air force.

The first problem dissolved after he built...

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