A man that lives alone in an airplane hangar in a Utah ghost town has found the ultimate escape
Ivo Zdarsky has been living alone in an airplane hangar in a ghost town in Utah since 2007.
He escaped Communist-era Czechoslovakia in a homemade hang glider in 1984, then founded a propeller company in California in 1986.
In 2007, he bought an abandoned airport in Lucin, Utah, to have the space to work on various projects.
He spends his days tinkering in his workshop, hiking, hunting, fishing, flying himself around the country exploring beautiful spots, and flying to Ogden, which is 163 miles away, for monthly grocery store runs.
“I enjoy it,” he told Insider about his solitary life in Lucin. “If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t be here.”
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.
When asked about his business, his answer is equally simplistic. “I was flying these ultra-light hang gliders, and I couldn’t find a good propeller, so I just made one,” he said. “People liked it, so I sold the propeller, and then I had money to make two propellers. Then I sold two propellers and had money to make three propellers…”
In 2007, Ivo Zdarsky traded California for Utah, describing it as yet another “escape”
In 2007, Zdarsky bought an airport in Lucin, Utah, which was founded as a railroad community in the 1860s when the First Transcontinental Railroad was built, according to Atlas Obscura. The town was abandoned in 1936, briefly resettled by a group of retired railroad workers, but once again empty by 1972. The area is now managed by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. According to Deseret News, a local news outlet, Zdarsky spent $99,000 to buy 400 acres there.
The “airport” was not much more than a runway when he bought it. He had a 100-by-50-feet steel hangar built and moved in shortly after. The hangar, one giant open space with no walls or windows, is his workshop, garage, and home in one. He calls it Lucin International Airport, and that’s what shows up on my screen when I call him.
He said he’s always been drawn to abandoned places, and that he was sick of Long Beach’s “high-density population” and traffic on the freeways. But he also needed room to work on his various projects — for one, a sort of helicopter and plane hybrid.
“I kinda like it here,” he says in his trademark frankness.
He describes Lucin as a “ghost site” as opposed to a ghost town, since he says that most buildings were razed, leaving almost nothing behind
Zdarsky isn’t lonely though. While otherwise tight-lipped about her, he said he has a girlfriend in Ogden, which is 163 miles away, that visits regularly, as well as friends that occasionally drop by to do some exploring, and that “you always run into people.” When pressed to describe how often “always” is he retorts, “If you define seeing people by seeing a car driving by, maybe once a week.”
However, he adds that the F.A.A., which leases a navigational beacon from him, must maintain it and regularly sends employees to check on it. He said he often sees people from the phone company, and that there are always explorers around.
He flies 45 minutes to Ogden around once a month to stock up on groceries
Zdarsky also regularly flies himself around the country to explore it, from the New Mexico desert to lava caves in Idaho and South Dakota’s badlands.
He speaks of wildfires and earthquakes as frequent occurrences but non-events. He spends his days tinkering around his workshop, busying himself with different projects — he recently built himself a speargun which he used to go fishing in Micronesia — and doing maintenance on his fence and the airport runway, which he says the badgers like getting into. He also loves hiking and exploring his own backyard, hunting, and fishing, and says that there are tons of beautiful spots around him.
He said while the post office won’t deliver to his remote location, UPS and FedEx will, and there’s a Schwan’s food delivery truck that used to bring him prepared meals, which he canceled after gaining too much weight. He also brags that his internet speed is much higher than most people’s with 90 megabits per second. “So I’m on Amazon ordering stuff and then UPS will bring it to me in the middle of nowhere,” he said gleefully.
From the Iron Curtain to the Utah desert, Zdarsky has found himself the kind of freedom most people only dream of. He can do what he wants, when he wants, and can even fly wherever he wants.
“I enjoy it,” he said dryly. “If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t be here.”
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