Czech Flees to West on a Wing, a Little Motor, Barely Enough Gas

Associated Press

A Czechoslovak engineer escaped to the West in a motorized hang glider after eluding two military jets and landed in a forest just as his homemade aircraft ran out of gas, police said Tuesday.

The 39-year-old man, considered "an aeronautical whiz," had spent several years secretly building the hang glider with its little motor, a Bavarian police spokesman said.

The engineer reached West German airspace Monday night ahead of two Czechoslovak air force jets that had tried to intercept him, according to the spokesman.

In keeping with West German custom, the escapee's name was not released.

The police spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the flight began Monday at dusk in Domazlice, Czechoslovakia, 10 miles from the Bavarian border.

Two patrolling military jets spotted the pilot as he neared the wooded boundary at Folmava and turned around to pursue him, the spokesman said.

The pilot passed over the border seconds later, and the two jets pulled up and retreated without violating West German airspace, the spokesman said.

The engineer flew a total of 30 miles in one hour before running out of gas and landing safely in the Bavarian forest outside Roding at 8:30 p.m., police said. Roding is 125 miles northeast of Munich and 18 miles from the Czech border.

The pilot told Bavarian authorities he left his country because he "generally was dissatisfied with the Communist system," the spokesman said.

West Germany routinely grants residence to any refugee arriving from the East Bloc.

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