As we never get tired of pointing out, when you combine desperation, perseverance, ingenuity and giant balls, wonderful things happen. This is proven by these tales of men who found themselves in hostile territory with no chance of escape ... and just fucking escaped anyway.
#6. Eugeniusz Pieniazek Builds an Airplane in His Living Room
Eugeniusz Pieniazek was an aircraft designer in Communist Poland. In the early 70s, he was persecuted by the Secret Service for palling around with Swedish pilots. One day, Pieniazek had enough and decided to escape Poland ... by secretly building his own airplane. All by himself. In his apartment.
There was no way Pieniazek was going to get a passport, so building a plane from scratch seemed like the most reasonable option for him. This was a man who worked with airplanes every day, by the way. Presumably he could have stolen one from his flying club at any moment, but didn't do so because he wasn't comfortable with the idea. Or maybe he didn't think any of them looked badass enough for him.
Via Thom R
Hell, it didn't even need flames painted down the side.
His self-made aircraft (appropriately named the "Cuckoo") was built from the discarded parts of four different gliders and planes. In lieu of a workshop, he used his 8-square-meter living room and then lowered the larger parts out through his apartment's window to assemble them on the airfield. We wonder what he told his neighbors all that time.
"This spice rack isn't coming off like I planned."
Pieniazek hid his home made creation in plain sight -- he actually had his escape vehicle registered and even used it to train pilots until he decided it was time to make a break for it. Finally, in 1971, on a day with the worst possible weather for the trip, Pieniazek took off in the middle of a thunderhead. Polish authorities logged him as missing. That was a very real possibility, by the way: Hitting the business end of a thunderstorm can rock far larger planes, and this was basically a flying homemade soapbox car. So, besides evading subsequent Polish, Czech, Hungarian and Yugoslav radar systems, Pieniazek and his massive balls also managed to slip right past Zeus.
The plane landed in Yugoslavia, where Pieniazek was finally able to enjoy his freedom ... for a few seconds anyway, before the Yugoslavs threw him in jail for seven months. Eventually they allowed him to sneak across the Austrian border, possibly because he threatened to build a jumbo jet out of the prison they were holding him in.
From there, Pieniazek made his way into Sweden and settled there. Except there was one bit of unfinished business: Two years after his escape, he returned to Yugoslavia to retrieve his damn plane. Not only did he have to tow it back to Sweden by himself, but he was also forced to pay a dubious "parking fee" that amounted to $1,200. This was a sound investment, though, because Pieniazek was still flying the Cuckoo as recently as 2005.
#5. Lone Navy Seal Vs. The Taliban
In 2005, four Navy SEALs were in the middle of a recon mission in Afghanistan when they were discovered by three goat herders. Rather than killing them, the SEALs decided to let them go. The goat herders then repaid the SEALs' kindness by giving away their position to the Taliban, which in military terms is known as "a dick move."
The SEALs were encircled by somewhere between 50 to 200 Taliban fighters and had to decide whether to fight or surrender. After some careful consideration the leader of the patrol, Lt. Murphy, announced their decision: "Fuck surrender." During the ensuing battle, one Marcus Luttrell was knocked out by an RPG and fell down a ravine. Turns out he was the lucky one: all the other SEALs were killed.
One badass motherfucker.
His nose was broken, three vertebrae were cracked and he had been shot in the leg. Luttrell couldn't even call a rescue chopper on the radio, because that would have involved showing himself in the middle of hostile territory. Not so big on the idea of dying in a ditch, Luttrell started crawling through the mountains. At this point he was attacked by six Al Qaeda assassins, and because he was so wounded, he surrendered.
Just kidding -- he killed them all.
Via W Curtis Draper
A business suit should make him look a little more -- nope. Still badass.
Luttrell made it seven miles through the mountains and was dehydrated to the point where he was licking his own sweat. He later fell off a ridge and was discovered by Afghan villagers, who took him in and cleaned his wounds. They also protected him from the Taliban -- by some incredible strike of luck, Luttrell had fallen into the lap of a village that was bound by tribal custom to defend their visitors to the death. When word got out that the villagers were openly sheltering an American soldier, the Taliban was forced to respect the age-old custom, in the sense that they tried to bribe the villagers, beat up their kids and threatened to kill entire families.
The villagers moved Luttrell back and forth to keep him away from the Taliban, who were lurking in the mountains. And then, after six hellish days of fighting the Taliban and dragging himself through the mountains, Luttrell was rescued by American forces. When Army Rangers found him, the first thing he did was apologize for dragging them out into the cold.
Via Larry D. Moore
He then made them all some hot tea out of the bodies of his enemies.
After returning stateside, Luttrell left the Navy and wrote Lone Survivor. He now lives in Texas, where he runs the Lone Survivor Foundation. He recently appeared in a country music video -- but you know what? We're not gonna make fun of that ... he's earned it.
#4. Bernd Boettger Rides a Torpedo Across the Sea
It turns out building insane vehicles from scratch was a hugely popular method of defecting communist regimes back in the late 60s and early 70s. Take Bernd Boettger, an engineer who lived in East Germany and was not too happy about it. Boettger was an excellent swimmer, but he knew he couldn't just jump into the Baltic Sea and swim his way to freedom, because that would be nuts. So he went and built himself a machine to do it for him. Basically it was a little motor and propeller that he could hang onto while it dragged him along the surface of the water.
The first trial run in 1967 was an epic failure: A patrol boat picked up Boettger and his gadget and he was jailed for several months. He was eventually let go on because he was an indispensable professional. Indispensable professional that he was, he went right back to planning a way to escape the country instead of working. The new machine had to be quieter than the old one, pull him not above the surface but under the water and carry enough fuel for a 15-mile trip. In other words, a silent fucking long-distance torpedo.
Boettger spent a year building his personal torpedo, using a motor scooter's engine, a fiberglass tank, snorkeling gadgetry and a propeller. At this point, we wonder if Stasi agents who monitored him were too stupid to know something was going on, or if they were too curious to find out what the hell he was building.
In September 1968, Boettger went into the Baltic again, diving right past the patrol boats and into the open sea. After five hours of trying not to get his nose cut off by the propeller whirring right in front of him or letting the fucking thing break away and disappear into the darkness, he reached the Danish lightship he'd set his mind on more than a year earlier.
His escape gained worldwide acclaim, ending up in such esteemed publications as Sports Illustrated and Soldier of Fortune. All this recognition ultimately led Boettger to work on a lighter, prettier commercial version of his water scooter. You might recognize the final product as the creatively named AquaScooter.
And they say communism hasn't accomplished anything.