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Ultralight Flight Over Berlin Wall : Daring Escape to West Told

May 29, 1989|From Reuters

WEST BERLIN — Two West Germans appear to have staged one of the most audacious escapes ever from East Berlin by swooping over the Berlin Wall in ultralight aircraft to snatch their East German brother and bring him to the West.

According to Ingo and Holger Bethke's account--backed by video footage shot in the air--the two flimsy planes took off Friday night from a West Berlin sports field and flew low over the heavily-guarded wall dividing the city.

One of camouflaged aircraft landed in a park near East Berlin's Soviet War Memorial to pick up their brother, Egbert, while the other ultralight circled overhead, the former East German citizens told police over the weekend.

The planes, much like powered hang gliders, then flew low over the Berlin Wall again and landed in front of the old German Parliament, the Reichstag.

The men abandoned the planes and drove off to celebrate the escape operation, which took less than 20 minutes. Ingo and Holger themselves escaped from the East--in 1974 and 1983 respectively, the West German magazine Quick reported.

Police said that so far, the story matched the facts. But they and the Western Allies who control West Berlin could not confirm the escape with certainty.

Allied sources said British officials were quizzing the rescued brother at a West Berlin reception camp for East Bloc refugees.

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