Sad news came in today about another of the interviewees who figured prominently in Susan Oliver’s life and in The Green Girl documentary. Mira Slovak, one of the significant men in Susan’s life and a truly fascinating man, has passed away at 84. Mira was a Czech Airlines pilot in 1953 when he decided he couldn’t stand Soviet domination of his home country any longer. Knocking out the pro-Communist copilot on a routine flight, he locked himself in the cockpit and literally flew a crowded airliner below the radar and defected to West Germany (apparently, buffeting the plane around the whole time to keep pro-Communist passengers from standing up long enough to break down the door and stop him).
After a year or so of being debriefed by the U.S. government, he was eventually given U.S. citizenship and became an airline pilot. But he also went on to become a record-setting daredevil pilot and champion hydro-plane boat racer. A bit of an Evel Knievel type, he survived several major crashes in both planes and high-speed boats and probably broke most of the bones in his body at one time or another. Although he eventually gave up the boat racing, he was still deeply immersed in the world of flying well into his 80’s. You can read about his amazing exploits by following this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/29/us/mira-slovak-a-daring-pilot-who-won-freedom-then-races-dies-at-84.html?smid=tw-nytimesobituary&seid=auto&_r=1
This string of recent deaths amongst the group of people interviewed for The Green Girl (Mira along with Biff Manard and Nancy Malone) just makes me realize how truly fortunate I was to get so many of the people who knew Susan Oliver to share their thoughts and recollections for my documentary. I knew when I started this project that many of these “first person voices” were not going to be with us much longer, and it definitely gave me a real sense of urgency in seeking out and shooting the interviews (a process which began back in November of 2011). I thank every single person who sat before my camera, and to those who’ve passed on, I truly hope that you get to sit with Susan (wherever that may be) and watch the movie together!