Freedom Flight: The True Story of the Cold War's Greatest Escape; Frank Iszak

Freedom Flight: The True Story of the Cold War's Greatest Escape; Frank Iszak

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`Inch by inch, he moved the gun out from underneath his stomach, over to his right side. He rolled over just enough to get the gun in the clear, slowly raised the barrel aimed at the engineer's heart, then changed his mind, aimed to the ceiling above the engineer's shoulder, and pulled the trigger.'

On the afternoon of Friday 13 July 1956, seven desperate young people boarded a plane in the People's Republic of Hungary with the intention of hijacking it, diverting it to West Germany and claiming political asylum. One of the seven was Frank Iszak, a young journalist at the apex of the Communist terror in Hungary, whose controversial articles had landed him in a uranium mine for `re-education'. He broke out, but remained a fugitive within the country's heavily guarded borders. In order to escape, he put together a boxing team, and en route to the regional championship they diverted their flight across the Iron Curtain.

They had no weapons, no map, and no idea whether the plane carried enough fuel to get them there. They would have to brave the gun of the security officer on board, the wild manoeuvres of the pilot, the Russian MiG fighters in hot pursuit, and a harrowing flight over the stormy Alps without navigation. Such a feat had never before been attempted, and they all knew that failure would mean certain death.

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