A famed aviator who once lived in Montecito, and operated an aircraft business in Ventura County has died.
Mira Slovak fled his native Czechoslovakia in 1953. He hated communism, so he and some of friends hijacked an airliner, and evaded Soviet military fighters to land safely in West Germany.
Slovak became an aerobatic pilot, and speedboat race in the U.S.
He sold imported airplanes from his hangar at Santa Paula Airport.
In 1968, as he was completing a motor glider flight from Germany, to the U.S., he almost died when he was caught in a downdraft while landing in Santa Paula, and crashed as some 2,000 people watched.
But, he recovered, and nine months later returned to the air.
He eventually moved to Fallbrook, in San Diego County, where he died following a battle with stomach cancer.
Slovak was 84 years old.