Most of the visits we write about happened since our involvement with general aviation in Iqaluit began in 1993. But this is one story that had to make the page even though it happened more than 40 years ago. Mira Slovak made the Atlantic crossing via Greenland and Iqaluit (or Frobisher Bay as it was then known) back in 1968. He did it in his motorglider, a Fournier RF-4D, built by Sportavia in Germany. Think big wing, one wheel, and a 36 hp Volkswagen engine.
At the time, it was the smallest aircraft to have done a trans-atlantic trip. His trip report is extensive and a bit hair-raising, particularly when you think of how little help there would be if something went wrong along the arctic stretch of his flight. Quite an accomplishment. And he survived a crash landing at the end of the trip. Quite an astonishing ending, for which you'll have to read the trip report.
And he didn't just do it once. He re-built the damaged N1700 and made the crossing back to Europe the next year for the Paris Air show. And he managed to win the London Evening News prize in the Daily Mail Air Race for planes under 5,000 pounds. This (now behind a paywall) Time Magazine article about "Uncommon Men" features Slovak extensively. Peter Kuppers has put together a great montage about the trips and about Mira. The montage includes the photo above.
And that's not all. in 1953, Slovak defected from Communist Czechoslovakia by hijacking the plane he captained for the government-run airline and flying to West Germany. He received asylum and moved to the US where he had a winning career as a hydroplane racer, becoming known as "The Flying Czech". He was a crop duster, the private pilot for Bill Boeing, Jr. and had a career as an airline pilot with Continental in the US.
Slovak's Fournier RF-4D N1700 is being re-built again, after spending the last 40 years in the collection of the Restoration Centre of the Museum of Flight in Everett, Washington. Here's view of the cockpit as the restoration begins.
The RF-4D is quite the aircraft. Read more about it here.
|Last Updated on Saturday, 24 October 2015 20:54|