The Incredible Story Of Mira Slovak, The Flying Czech

It was March 23, 1953. At 7:20 pm the plane lumbered down the runway and took off in the direction of Brno, 115 miles from Prague. Once in flight, the pilot turned the controls over to his Communist co-pilot and walked back among the passengers. Two of his co-conspirators then accompanied him up front on the pretext of seeing the pilots’ compartment.

With weapons brought aboard, the escapees overpowered the other crew members and locked them in a baggage compartment. The pilot made his final radio contact over Benesov, then tipped the ship downward in a steep dive.

Leveling out well under 1,000 feet, the pilot banked the plane sharply toward the west and began the 45-minute hedge-hopping flight to freedom. At any moment they expected MIG fighters to pounce upon them. An attempt was made by Communist passengers to break down the door to the pilots’ compartment. The pilot pulled back hard on the wheel and then shoved it forward quickly. The effect was like hitting a huge air pocket and the lurching plane discouraged further passenger action.

The pilot was Mira Slovak. The daring escape from communist-controlled Czechoslovakia would not be the end of his adventures. He would embrace freedom in America…and America would embrace this charismatic, young Czech.


In the air he was a crop-duster, a stunt pilot, Reno Air Race winner, Continental Airlines captain and Bill Boeing Jr.’s personal pilot. In 1968, Slovak piloted a tiny glider powered by a 36-horsepower Volkswagen engine from California to West Germany and back…simply for the adventure.

On the water, Mira Slovak was an Unlimited Hydroplane Hall of Fame driver and National Champion. He was also the most gracious and charismatic driver of his era. That along with his racing skills made him the most popular driver of his time. It was during this time in the 50s and 60s when Seattle became the home to most of the hydroplane racing teams. Before the Seahawks, Unlimited Hydroplane racing was a big part of Seattle’s identity. The boats and their drivers were household names.


Growing Up In Czechoslovakia

Born in Czechoslovakia in 1929, Mira grew up with a fascination for aviation. He also grew up in interesting times. As a boy he watched war and occupation by Nazi Germany be replaced by communist take over. Nevertheless, at age 18 Mira found an opportunity to fly. In 1947 the newly established Republic of Czechoslovakia advertised for young men to fly for the country’s air force. Of 3,000 applicants, Mira was one of 105 candidates accepted. Two years later Mira stood second in his class of 54 graduates.


In 1950 Lieutenant Slovak was selected to attend the military air transport school. Upon graduation he was assigned as a pilot with the government-controlled Czechoslovakian Airlines. Within three months he was captain and chief pilot of a plane. The stage was set for one of the most dramatic episodes of his life.

As an airlines pilot, Mira was extremely well-paid. This was primarily incentive pay to keep pilots loyal. But he felt a conflict that financial reward would not comfort. On flights to the Scandinavian countries he witnessed democratic living. He heard the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. He remembered his life of freedom before the war. The conflict grew in his mind until at last he knew he had to try to escape communism.


The escape would be made on a scheduled flight from Prague to Brno. Mira would be the pilot of the C-47 Dakota. Among the 26 passengers were three friends involved in the conspiracy.

Now they were locked in the cockpit hedge-hopping towards West Germany expecting MIG fighters to intercept them at any moment. But, the fighters never came and now the lights of West Germany began to appear in the towns and cities below them.

Circling high above an American Air Force Base, Slovak contacted a passing jet and was led down. The escape came to a close when he and five of his passengers were granted political asylum. The next morning headlines throughout the Free World proclaimed the escape.


Coming To America

For over a year Mira worked closely with the U. S. Air Force, in Germany and in Washington, D. C. For his cooperation during those long months of interrogation, he won permanent residency in the United States.


Mira now set upon the task of getting a commercial pilot’s license, but he had no credentials. So Mira found his way to Yakima, Washington where he worked on his English and took a job with Central Aircraft flying crop-dusters.

Over in Seattle Boeing Aircraft soon learned of the skilled pilot who had fled Communism. Mira was brought to work for Boeing as a test pilot and as the personal pilot for Bill Boeing Jr.


In 1956 Boeing convinced Slovak to drive his new Miss Wahoo on the hydroplane racing circuit. Mira had never driven any boat…let alone one of the fastest in the world. But, by 1957 he had gained huge popularity in the sport and his story of escape from behind the Iron Curtain made him an American folk hero. President Eisenhower stepped in and signed an executive order to enable “The Flying Czech” to obtain a pilot’s license ahead of citizenship. In 1959 Mira won the President’s Cup Regatta on the Potomac River. President Eisenhower awarded the trophy and Slovak was able to thank him in person.


In 1960 my father stood on the shore of Lake Washington to watch the Seattle Seafair Race. Miss Wahoo was the fastest qualifier and favored to win. From his vantage point near the north turn my father watched the six boats thundering towards the start line. But Slovak had mis-timed his start. He went past the start line reaching top speed, but trailing the entire field. The boats were now out of view as they raced to the south turn of the three-mile oval course. The crowd waited for the boats to reappear as they would race up the back stretch to the north turn.

They came into view…now five of them. Where was Miss Wahoo? My father looked from one boat to the next but couldn’t find Slovak. Then someone shouted, “There’s Wahoo. Behind the roostertails.” The five boats were spread out along the back stretch. The crowd couldn’t see Miss Wahoo but they could see her roostertail streaming higher than the boats in the foreground as Slovak raced up the outside line passing one boat after another. Now entering the North turn he was in second place and closing on the leader.


The cheering on the shore had grown to a roar. The crowd could still only see Miss Wahoo’s roostertail streaming higher than the lead boat as they raced through the turn. Then Wahoo came into view as she thundered around the outside of the lead boat’s tight line. There was an audible gasp by the crowd on the shore as no one had ever seen a boat corner at such a speed.

But the water in that corner wasn’t smooth. The outside sponson of Miss Wahoo found a hole, the sponson dug in and Miss Wahoo flipped doing a barrel roll. There was a tremendous geyser of water. When it cleared there was the wreckage of Miss Wahoo and a Coast Guard rescue helicopter was plucking Slovak out of the water unconscious and drowning. He was taken to the hospital with broken ribs.

Slovak did not need to pass that boat in that corner. The heat was five laps. He could easily have caught the boat going down the front straightaway. But that was not how Mira Slovak drove. He always pushed to the edge. Slovak had three serious hydroplane accidents, the first in Seattle in 1960. In 1963 the Miss Exide exploded on Lake Cour d’Alene. In 1966, he tried to break the world speed record in the Tahoe Miss and the boat exploded at 195 mph. Mira bailed out breaking his back and dislocating his hip.


Mira Slovak retired from racing in 1967 and settled down. He piloted for Continental Airlines and occasionally performed in his stunt plane…flying into his 80s.


In recent years some of the vintage hydroplanes have been restored and they have exhibition races at the events throughout the Northwest. In 2009 Bill Boeing Jr. had an exact replica of Miss Wahoo built to participate in these exhibitions. At age 81, three years before his death, Mira took the wheel of Miss Wahoo once again and turned his last laps in a hydroplane.

He was told to stay below 90 mph. Mira opened it up to over 140 mph. The owners stood on the dock laughing at themselves for thinking Mira could ever hold back. His fans stood on the shore cheering their hero one last time. He had inspired them by living his life to the fullest and they loved him for it.


This article was edited from source material including:

The 1959 APBA Gold Cup Official Regatta Programme by Bob Karolevitz

Jon Osterberg’s Blog Mira Slovak makes final flight home posted by Jon Osterberg June 19, 2014

Read More: In The Gunsight Of The KGB

21 thoughts on “The Incredible Story Of Mira Slovak, The Flying Czech”

  1. When I saw this article it made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. When I was growing up Mira was a role model. As I got older he became a dear friend. I flew with him many times. He handed me the keys (a figure of speech) to many of the aircraft he owned over the years.
    He was as red pill as they came. We were attending the funeral of a mutual friend who’d been a WWII bomber pilot. The daughter of one of one of the other WWII pilots came up to him and confessed that she’d had a crush on him when she was younger. Without skipping a beat he looked at her and said in his broken English and Czech accent “I have room, in hotel, down the block”. It was the hardest I’ve ever laughed at a funeral.
    Mira attended the 50’th anniversary of the Reno Air Races last year. He was the first pilot to win the races. He was recovering from shingles at the time. I talked to him a couple weeks before he died of stomach cancer and he never said a word about it.
    Aside from the accidents he had racing boats, he was involved in a near life ending accident in a motor-glider. He was one tough SOB.
    He lived a life most people will never come close to and I can still hear his voice and flying advice as I type this.

    1. Wow….you were friends with Mira Slovak. I would love to hear all the stories. I think the motor glider accident you refered to was in 1968 when he flew to Germany and back. He missed the runway by just a few feet on the last leg of that trip.
      I would love to hear more of your Mira stories

      1. I got an ear-full about that accident one day by one of the witnesses. The witness was a guy that had been hired on with TWA in 1937. He laid the accident at the feet of another TWA pilot Mira was flying alongside for the last leg of the trip. The other pilot had been a B-17 pilot in WWII and a pilot in the Berlin Airlift. All those guys were friends but those two TWA guys didn’t like each other.
        I’ve heard so many accounts from witnesses from that accident and Mira and the old guy that I got an earful from had the only two matching stories.
        As near as I can remember how the story went, the B-17 guy went ahead to meet Mira in the air so he could be in the arrival hype that was sure to follow. The plane he was flying was a Curtiss Robin that’s sitting in the Seattle Museum of Flight at Boeing field. They went to do a formation pass down the runway for all the cameras. The B-17 guy was flying lead in the Robin and made the pass nice and slow so the photographers could get some good shots. He also wanted to get in the pictures that were sure to make all the papers. Well, they got to the end of the runway and the B-17 guy turned with Mira on the inside of the turn. Well, to stay in formation the inside plane is traveling a shorter distance so to stay in position he’ll have to fly slower by pulling the throttle back. They were already real slow so the motor-glider stalled and spun in.
        Quick note: for those not familiar with aviation jargon, stalling has nothing to do with the engine stalling. It has to do with the retaliative wind hitting the wing at an increasing angle of attack as the aircraft slows (you can also induce it at higher speeds by pulling real hard) to the point that the air no longer flows over the wing smoothly across the last part of the outer span (most wings have a twist in them to facilitate the tip stalling last) and no longer producing lift. If there’s yaw associated with the stall in sufficient amounts, one wing will stall first and produce a gyration known as a spin. If you do that low to the ground, it’s usually fatal.

    2. ‘When I saw this article it made the hair stand up on the back of my
      neck. When I was growing up Mira was a role model. As I got older he
      became a dear friend. I flew with him many times. He handed me the keys
      (a figure of speech) to many of the aircraft he owned over the years.’
      ………….and so the favorite slander of the fembitches that manosphere are for loser men got blown out of the water. you have my respect sir.
      but of course if we go by how 90% of women define loser men as men who are less than 6′ tall, 6-figured income, 8″-long-schlong then even the great mr. slovak himself might ended up being labeled as “loser”.

    1. I know what you mean – though Czech republic is westernizing no doubt, their women are becoming haughty as shit, but has not yet progressed to the level of skankification that the States has.

  2. At 24 years of age, I’d like to think that through a few colorful life experiences I’ve swallowed the red pill very early on in life and have been on my path ever since( perfecting my craft as a drummer,playing music that isn’t one dimensional garbage, writing, focusing on my health&ingesting as much knowledge possible etc). With that said; given the influx of effete beta males that exist today (especially within my age group) I find myself looking more into great men of the past and hearing about solid dudes like Mira inspire me more to not look back and keep pushing forward. Many thanks to ROK for not only existing but for posting inspiring stories like this.

  3. shit article imo. the first world problems pua is centered around can never compare to the desire to leave an oppressive communist country for the sake of enhancing general quality of life and obtaining the ability of freedom of expression.
    any philosophy that pushes being “alpha” is the way to live a happy life as a man is inherently oppression from society. an idea of a way a man must conduct himself SOLELY to achieve societal acceptance (i.e. from women). a mere puppet of a social construct in its most primitive sense.

    1. I don’t think this article really pushes a philosophy. Nowhere was implied that Mira lived a happy life, from the stories he seems like an interesting guy but maybe he lived dangerously to escape something, maybe he struggled for his entire life.
      I welcome all articles about inspirational individuals that remind us we can live however we want. This man didn’t fear the wrath of the USSR, why should we fear whatever it is that bugs us.

  4. Interesting article. Live life to the extereme is an interesting concept in that one must chose when to hold back and to accelerate. Mira accelerated, but could have done so much more had he had self-restraint.

  5. Fuckin’ great article.
    At the same time is saddens me that America is becoming like communist czech – with no where else on the planet to run.
    It would seem that the countries that offer the best in terms of personal freedoms lack in terms of economic opportunities / possibilities. And the opposite where one can have a better chance at work or starting a business there is heavy regulation on one’s private life. I’m speaking in terms of how this affects men.

    1. It used to exist in bounty before we let women vote and gave NAMs power. There is still some left compared to the rest of the world, especially when it comes to free speech and gun rights.

  6. That was then and this is now. Where can freedom lovers go now to live their dreams? This is not the same country that Mira Slovak fled to In the Eisenhower era. In fact it now resembles the tyranny he fled from in many ways.

  7. A great life, and a great story. However, he was not a Czech, but a Slovak, born in Cifer, in what is now the Slovak Republic. (Approximately 50 miles from where I sit writing this.) Slovaks have never been, and God willing, will never be Czechs.

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