Ivo Zdarsky has been social distancing since before that became common vernacular.
Zdarsky has lived alone in an airplane hangar in the abandoned town of Lucin, Utah, since 2007.
When asked why he moved to the desert, he dryly explained, with the raspy voice of a man who doesn’t speak much, “I escaped from Czechoslovakia, then I was in California, and then I moved here.”
But that’s a very simplistic version of events. As he warms up to me, he reveals that, in 1984, he escaped the KGB in communist-era Czechoslovakia by building himself a hang glider and flying into Austria in the dead of night, where he was granted political asylum. He didn’t even tell his family about his plan to escape.
He has fond memories of the Austrian guards that took him in, recalling that they gave him coffee and doughnuts and let him sleep in an unlocked jail cell before moving him around the country to keep the KGB from finding him.
In the 1980s, Czechoslovakia, now the countries of Slovakia and the Czech Republic, was communist-ruled. According to Britannica, during this time Czechoslovakia was “one of the more prosperous but also one of the more repressive countries in eastern Europe.”
Zdarsky wanted out: He wanted the freedom to build planes, start a business, and do as he pleased.
After only six weeks as a political refugee in Austria, he was sent to Long Beach, California, where he founded a propeller manufacturing company in 1986.
Read more: Insider