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With its tiny engine, the Spirit got him in numerous hops across the Atlantic. Over the Arctic he admitted to some fleeting anxiety: "I was just hoping that the putt putt Volkswagen ahead of me was never going to stop turning, and the little airplane never stop flying, because it Adidas Shorts For Kids

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Boeing, owner of a 2,000 horsepower hydroplane called the Miss Wahoo, thought Slovak would be an uninhibited boat racer.

Slovak chose to defect on the night of a full moon March 23, 1953. After smuggling guns on board and locking his co pilot, navigator and flight engineer in a baggage compartment, he quieted frenzied passengers with a bone rattling dive of more than 1,000 feet. Flying low to avoid detection by Russian fighter planes, he knew he was over West Germany when he saw neon lights. "Everyone was trying to sell," he told an interviewer. intelligence officials grilled Slovak for months, said Williams, executive director of the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum in Kent, Wash. In return for his cooperation, the CIA introduced him to Bill Boeing Jr., a son of the aircraft magnate, who made Slovak his personal pilot.

"I fell out of the sky like somebody shot me down," he wrote. "That's the last thing I remember."

Slovak's two marriages ended in divorce. He and Bondi lived in Montecito, Calif., before moving to Florida and then, seven years ago, to northern San Diego County.

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All was well, until the Spirit approached Santa Paula. As some 2,000 people gathered at the airfield for a celebratory barbecue, Slovak was on his final approach when he was caught in a vicious downdraft and crashed into a ditch.

from California to the Czech Republic in a vintage Bucker Jungmann biplane.

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The next year, he made the same trip in reverse, without the near death experience. Slovak, who joked that he was "born chicken, absolute chicken" but loved to fling his hands over his head while flying an open cockpit plane upside down 50 feet off the ground, died June 16 of stomach cancer at his Fallbrook, Calif., home. He was 84.

He broke his back and most of his ribs. He was in a coma for a week. His recovery took nine months, plenty of time to do another solo run back to Europe for the 1969 Paris Air Show.

After all, this was the moment that Mira Slovak and his two co conspirators had been anticipating for two years. Slovak, the youngest captain in the state run Czechoslovakian Airlines, hated communism and so did his friends.

Born Oct. 25, 1929, in Cifer, Czechoslovakia, Miroslav Jan Slovak was the son of a grain merchant. During the Nazi occupation in World War II, his family hid two Jewish families in their farmhouse basement, according to David Williams, who is writing a Slovak biography.

When he was 17, Slovak became a Czech airman. He rose quickly, especially after a Soviet purge of the Czech military in the late 1940s. By the time he was 21, he was a captain assigned to the state airline. He also was an ardent, if secret, anti communist. "I saw friends disappear, property gone, a place full of betrayal and informers," he told Sports Illustrated in 1960. "I thought if I stayed I would be shot or in prison. I don't know."

"He'd mapped out the route and was quite serious about it," said his longtime friend Ingrid Bondi, a former Continental Airlines flight attendant who lived with him for 28 years. Slovak was a pilot for Continental, retiring in 1986.

When the pilot with the jet black hair and movie star smile asked if anyone would care to come up and see the cockpit, he wasn't surprised that a couple of his 25 passengers readily agreed.

a Cold War defector who found fame through the air

would be a very long, lonely swim back to Greenland," he wrote in a journal.

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Within a decade, Slovak, whose only previous boating experience involved paddling, won three national titles at the helm of so called unlimited hydroplanes the fastest racing boats on the water. He also had most of his teeth knocked out, his face sliced open and his kidneys badly injured. When he bailed out of the Tahoe Miss because its engine exploded at 195 mph, he broke his back and Nike Zoom Uptempo 5 Premium dislocated his hip. "I got to know lots of nurses by their first name," he said.

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By 1968, he had a hangar at the Santa Paula airport, where he sold imported airplanes for many years. When he picked up his single seat, 860 pound Fournier RF4 motor gilder in Germany, he named it the Spirit of Santa Paula.

Before his illness was diagnosed late last year, Slovak was planning one more big trip: a flight Adidas Jackets Online

Slovak landed at an American military base in West Germany, immediately making headlines as a Cold War hero. But his dramatic 1953 defection was only the beginning. with two shirts and little English beyond "coffee and cherry pie," he became a crop duster, a daredevil aerobatic pilot and a national champion speedboat racer, roaring across waters from coast to coast at nearly 200 mph.

That's why they concocted their desperate plan to hijack his DC 3, overpowering its small crew and evading Russian MiGs so they could fly to freedom in the West.

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"I want a bachelor in my boat," Boeing told a reporter, "not a driver with a distraught wife on shore and a bunch of kids waving Daddy goodbye."

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Meanwhile, he relaxed with a little flying. He Adidas Jacket Mens 2016

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won a championship at the first Reno National Air Races in 1964, flew under the occasional bridge, and sometimes did aerobatics displays over speedboat races when he wasn't competing.

In 1968, he flew a tiny motor glider with a 36 horsepower Volkswagen engine from Germany to California, crash landing and nearly killing himself just 19 feet from the runway at his final destination in Santa Paula.

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