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.