Stealing a Heinkel He 111 by Gert Laursen During the occupation of Denmark thousands of Danes fled to Sweden to evade capture by the Germans. Almost all of the fugitives escaped by boat over the sound between Sweden and Denmark and many escapes were quite dramatic, but one stands out from the others: In 1943, the 21 year old Per Hiul got employed as an aircraft mechanic by the Luftwaffe at the aerodrome at Alborg, with the intentions of stealing an aircraft and fly it to England. Having no flying training he learnt how to fly an airplane by watching the procedures of the German pilots on the ground and when he was in the air with them. At a time he got his chance but Hiul was stopped after having started the engines of a plane. Fortunately for him the Germans thought it was an accident and he continued his work. Some months later he was moved to the airfield at Kastrup, north of Copenhagen. Here he made his second attempt of stealing an aircraft while working at the repair shops. On the morning of the 6th of July 1944, while German mechanics were testing engines, he climbed into a Heinkel He 111 hoping that the noise from engines would hide his intentions. With some difficulties he got the Heinkel started and taxied to the runway and took of, missing a building with only a few inches. This was the first time ever he was flying a plane. In a few minutes he was over Sweden, but his trouble were not over. Swedish anti aircraft guns opened fire at him over Helsingborg. He tried to signal by tipping the wings but to no avail. The plane was hit and the steering controls damaged, causing it to pitch downward. He climbed back through the fuselage of the aircraft and that probably saved his life. By impact in a corn field, the plane was totally destroyed and Hiul knocked unconscious.He woke up by the feeling of fuel dripping down on his face, and having suffered no serious injuries, he hurried away from the wreck. Despite his protests he was hospitalised for eight days for observation. After having left the hospital he got in contact with the Danish resistance, and for the reminder of the war, he ferried saboteurs and refugees across the sound between Denmark and Sweden. His escape was not without personal cost for him. His parents were arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned for 3 months before they were released again. After the war Hiul worked as an interpreter for the British and American forces before he went into the merchant marine as an officer.