View Full Version : Escape from Eastern Germany in a C150 in the 1960's

1st Sep 2017, 15:36
Back in the 1970's I read a gripping account written by a guy who several years before had fallen in love with a girl in Eastern Germany, maybe the Czech Republic. He decided the best way to get her out was to learn to fly and sneak over the border.

He did a PPL in a Cessna 150 (in Austria I think) which took several months and arranged to pick her up using coded messages in a field they had thought was suitable. She would be waving a red scarf to help him identify the field. He flew illegally over the border, had difficulty navigating but eventually saw a figure frantically waving a red scarf. He managed to land in the field....

The article concluded with him saying "I no longer fly aeroplanes."

I have never heard anything more about this feat but it was a heart warming story of ingenuity, bravery, love and foolhardiness. It also showed his inexperience, fear and the multiple problems he faced such as when it became dark and he had never flown at night. I have tried to find the story on the internet but in vain. If anyone has the article I would love to read it again and a new generation could enjoy it as I did. I would hope after all the risks he took the two of them, if still alive, are still together!

1st Sep 2017, 19:58
There are numerous stories of brave people trying to escape from the evil of socialism in Europe. I was fascinated by the museum that used to be next to Checkpoint Charlie in West Berlin that recounted many such escapes.

1st Sep 2017, 20:10
How would he have managed to get all of her luggage into Cessna 150?

1st Sep 2017, 20:21
East Germany? Personal possessions?

1st Sep 2017, 23:16
No idea, but if you want the real deal search for Ladi Bezak on google..

4th Sep 2017, 10:11
It sounds like Hans Christian Cars and Isolde Giese. They or he wrote a book in Swedish, translated into German but not English, so far at least, according to what I can find on the internet.

13th Sep 2017, 16:05
Thanks daughter59. With the aid of the names you supplied I found it. An incredible story which happened 51 years ago. It is about 3 episodes of "I learned about flying from that" rolled into one! See below
The predicament in which Isolde and I found ourselves seemed fictional, fantastic right from the start.
We met while I was on holiday behind the Iron Curtain. I was a Swedish student working for my doctorate in political science. She was a medical student from East Berlin: beautiful, slender with dark hair and smiling eyes. In a few days we were in love and, three months later, visiting her at her flat in East Berlin, I asked her to marry me.
"But that is impossible," Isolde said, her eyes brimming with tears. "The authorities would never let me leave the country."
I refused to take no for an answer, and finally convinced her that she must try to escape. On a map, we examined the communist borders stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea and considered how we'd slip out. By that time (July 1965), all the standard means of escape such as a break through the Berlin Wall, were too risky.
Suddenly, to my own astonishment, I heard myself say, "I'll fly you out Isolde."
Her eyebrows shot up. "But I didn't know you were a pilot."
"I'm not," I admitted. I had never been in a cockpit in my life. But I will go back to Sweden and learn to fly, and then I'll fetch you." Isolde looked at me as if I were crazy but before the evening was over, she agreed that a small plane was our best chance.
The trouble was that, within an hour of my first lesson in Stockholm, I learned that flying definitely was not my strong point. My coordination was poor, my depth perception and sense of balance wretched.
But I kept at it, and eventually I was learning how to execute ludicrously inept landings. My instructor, however, was not encouraging. My persistence in flying too low over the treetops (one day I would have to fly that low to get in under the Communist radar beams) especially upset him. "Higher, higher!" he'd shout. "We don't want to lose our plane!"
It took me nearly a year, 40 training hours in the air, to get my pilot's certificate. One August day in 1966, I got the precious document. I also succeeded in obtaining a tourist visa valid for two entries to Czechoslovakia, which we had decided was the country best suited for the rescue flight.
Next morning, Sunday, August 14, I took the train to Vienna and on Monday drove from there to the nearby check border in a hired car. The frontier police examined my visa and painstakingly checked my car and luggage. I made myself relax. How were they to know that my real mission here was to find a suitable out of the way field in which to land and pick up Isolde?
I selected an abandoned pasture north of Bratislava and about 25 miles east of Vienna, near a point where the sombre, wooden guard towers were a little farther apart than usual.
Although there were no Cessnas - the only plane with which I was familiar - available in Vienna, I learned that I could hire one in Salzburg, 155 miles away. I took the train there, and proved to an inspector at the airport that I could handle the plane. Then I managed to navigate the little aircraft back over the unfamiliar landscape to Vienna.
Everything was now ready. From Salzburg I had sent Isolde the coded telegram she had waited so long for. "MAGNUS ARRIVES AT 16.40 BRUNO." In the Swedish calendar, of which Isolde had a copy, each day has a special Christian name. Magnus was the following day, Friday, August 19 and I was asking Isoldeto meet me at the railway station in Brno, Czechoslovakia.
On Friday afternoon, I sped by car to Brno, 68 miles away. Isolde was there at the station. In our joy at being together again we forgot for an hour or so that the night held any problems for us.
By dinner, our laughter was hollow, our smiles frozen. We were aware that we might be celebrating our last meal. After dark we drove to the "escape field." I switched off the lights before leaving the road and crossed the pasture in the dark.
There was no time to waste. At any moment the tower's searchlight, slashing about in circles just 330 yards away, might spot the car.
"Hide there in the trees until morning," I told Isolde. "I"ll come just before dawn. When you see my plane, wave your scarf to show me where you are. And remember , whatever happens, I love you."
Back in Vienna two hours later, I was far too excited to sleep. instead, I wrote a letter to my parents in Sweden, telling them for the first time about Isolde, and asking for their understanding in case anything went wrong. At about 3 a.m. I checked out of the hotel and went to the airport where I explained that "urgent business in Salzburg" required me to take off just as soon as it was light. But I had hardly settled in the cockpit when the sky was split by jagged forks of lightning, followed by tremendous thunderclaps. Then the rain began to fall and I was unable to take off.
For two more hours I fumed and fretted, waiting for the storm to abate. Finally, at 8 o'clock sharp, I was cleared for takeoff.
Once outside the traffic pattern, I dived to treetop level to slip under the radar surveillance at the border. Hedge-hopping, I followed the main railway into Czechoslovakia, swept in between the two guard towers I'd chosen and skimmed over the empty pasture at an altitude of only 65 feet.
No familiar jumper, no waving red scarf. Isolde was not there. I banked, and rolled back towards the two guard towers. Terrified, I fully expected the soldiers, plainly visible on the towers, to open fire. But I had caught them off guard.
Safely back in Vienna I was utterly exhausted and worried sick about what might have happened to Isolde. There was only one thing to do. I hired another car and rushed back to Czechoslovakia, to the Bratislava hotel where we had planned to meet if anything went wrong. She was there, safe though badly shaken.
In her hiding place she had been drenched with rain, frightened by unfamiliar night sounds, and terrified when, at dawn, she had heard a burst of shots from the near-by border. Remembering our agreement that I would arrive shortly after the dawn she was afraid something had happened to me. Yet she had waited for me until full daylight, only then had she left her hiding place and found a road where, eventually, a motorist picked her up.
Despite her ordeal and knowing that a second attempt might be twice as dangerous, Isolde was eager to try again. "What other chance will we ever have, Hans?" She asked.
The following morning we set out north along the border searching for a new "escape field". We found it near the little town of Mikulow. It was well marked by a small lake and a tall pine grove which I believed I could easily see from the air.
I left Isolde there about 3.30 p.m., again promising to pick her up at dawn the next day, Monday August 22.
On the way back to Vienna I stopped briefly in several towns to make small sketches of the distinctive church steeples in each. These, I hoped, would help lead me back to the meadow. It was late afternoon when I stopped at the airport. Because the airport people were still friendly, I knew the Czech authorities had not lodged a complaint about my illegal morning flight.
Trying to sound casual, I asked the meteorologist, "What about the flying weather tomorrow, good?"
"No," he said. "Low hanging clouds are moving in early tonight." This meant that with my limited experience, takeoff and landing might be impossible by morning. The news hit me like a blow in the stomach. If all our efforts were not to be in vain, I would have to act quickly. It was now 5.30 and soon it would be getting dark.
I rushed over to the flight operations desk and tried to keep my voice level as I said, "I'd like to take a little exercise flight just to see the sunset."

"Alright," said the flight dispatcher, but since you are not cleared for night flying you must be back by dusk-no later!"

I knew I couldn't get back before dark, and I've never flown at night. But there was no time to worry about it. I dashed for my plane and took off.
Following the church steeples I'd sketched, I found my stretch of frontier, dived to an altitude of only 30 feet and leapfrogged a hill between two guard towers. Suddenly, right in front of me and less than 100 yards away, was a third tower I hadn't seen before. I missed the tower top by what seemed inches. A soldier opened his eyes wide with terror as I practically flew into his open mouth.
But the near-miss disorientated me. Where was the little lake, the tall pine grove where I had left Isolde. Circling, I found one lake, then another, but neither was ours. I broke into a cold sweat the light was fading fast.
With shaking hands, I took out my map and saw that there were only three lakes in the whole area. Climbing to get a broader view, I suddenly saw it, and saw to my enormous relief, OUR field beside it, our pine grove… and a tiny figure frantically waving a red scarf.
it was certainly one of the worst landings I ever made. I came in too high, overshot the field and had to break heavily to stop. Without a word Isolde jumped into the seat beside me. Almost instantly we were roaring up into the dusk in a take off as bad as the landing. I could almost hear the sound of machine-gun fire as I spiralled up as fast as I could. It was now quite dark and all the familiar landmarks had vanished. I did the only thing I could: took a compass heading of the opposite direction from which I had come.
Luck was with us. After some 20 acutely anxious minutes, we spotted in the distance a cluster of jewelled lights – Vienna! – then the straight, beaded string of lights that marked the airport runway. I made my approach just as if it were daytime. When I thought the runway lights whizzing by looked big enough, I pulled up the plane's nose and made an amazingly smooth landing.
One last hurdle remained: the airport authorities must not see Isolde or back she might go. We had planned for her to slip away into the darkness of the big field. But just as she was getting out, a car from the control tower board down on us with blazing headlights.
"Hide!" I whispered. Isolde scrambled back into the baggage compartment and disappeared just before a furious air control officer pulled up.
"You've put us to a lot of bother tonight," he snapped. "We even contacted Czech Air Control to see if they'd seen or heard you." My heart sank. "They said they had, but only over Austria, and that's a good thing for you, mister. You can get into serious trouble blundering across the border!"
He drove away, and I taxied the plane to a hangar. As an attendant blinded by my lights, opened the hangar door, I told Isolde, "Quick run for it." She did, without being seen. I met her outside the field and we drove jubilantly into town.
Next morning I sneaked Isolde back aboard and flew her to West Germany, where I landed in a field and let her out. After returning my plane to Salzburg I rejoined her. It took her a month to get her papers, and on her 25th birthday she arrived in Stockholm. We were married in the white stone church where I'd been christened, and we left on our honeymoon by car. I no longer fly planes.
Postscript 1967 Hans Christian Cars, a scholar in international relations, hopes to acquire his PhD in political science. His wife, Isolde, has completed her medical training and is now a general practitioner in Stockholm.They have an infant son, Carl.

13th Sep 2017, 18:16
Wouldn't it make such a superb film?......

13th Sep 2017, 18:50
Wouldn't it make such a superb film?......

Yes it would!

Nice to see they are still together so it was all worth it. I see Hans is now 78 and Isolde is 75. Their son must be 50 this year and presumably very proud of his mum and dad.

From the picture it looks like a Cessna 172. Bearing in mind Cessna 172s are not great at landing in wet fields he was lucky the nose wheel did not dig in and the nose gear collapse or the plane flip over. If so he would probably still be in prison there now! Also I am glad she did not run into the prop when leaping in and out. A lot of things could have gone wrong..

13th Sep 2017, 18:51
Here they are. What a wonderful story.


14th Sep 2017, 06:12
What a great place our world would be if everyone was made of the same stuff as these two. Nulli Secundus.


14th Sep 2017, 11:07
There are numerous stories of brave people trying to escape from the evil of socialism in Europe. I was fascinated by the museum that used to be next to Checkpoint Charlie in West Berlin that recounted many such escapes.

Accuracy please, Communism not Socialism!

pax britanica
14th Sep 2017, 11:39
Accuracy indeed, and highly unlikely they would be in prison still or indeed since 1992.

Its must have been an interesting part of the world then with Vienna only a few Km from 'the East' even though much of Cz is west of Vienna . Crossing the road border today between what is now Slovakia and Austria is a relic of the cold war days with the actually border several hundred metres inside a sort of sterile strip between the two countries with serious looking border posts set way back from the border line itself and of course nowadays there isnt much difference between roads, houses, cars etc on both sides. I wonder what happened to all the stern faced men in fur hats who used to raise those striped barriers

15th Sep 2017, 05:48
Accuracy please, Communism not Socialism!
No, Socialism is correct. Communism was admitted to have never been achieved by the Soviet State and its satellites.
USSR =Union Of Soviet Socialist Republics.

In their failed dogma Socialism was merely a transition phase in the move toward Communism:
and to many it still is.

15th Sep 2017, 12:50
I would turn that around and say the USSR 'brand' and it's puppet satellites never achieved Socialism but certainly achieved a hateful Godless Communist dictatorship.And one should never confuse the British Labour party with Socialism :-)

pax britanica
15th Sep 2017, 12:59
If we are going down the road of equating western European socialism with USSr then you might as well say the Conservative party are Nazis

Its a great story and it was Communism that kept them apart. After all they went to live in a socialist country for the rest of their life-Sweden

15th Sep 2017, 18:35
Sweden is basically a social democracy. A BIG difference