Tony Rolt is a somewhat common name in the UK, but in the States he’s largely unheard of. Which is a shame, because his is the kind of badass life that they make TV series about. He had a racing career before and after WW2, and actually won the 24 Hours at LeMans in 1953 before going on to be heavily involved in the first production on-road car to have all wheel drive. And that’s very cool.
But the most badass event worth noting stems from his time spent in POW camp Oflag IV-C… better known as Colditz. When the POW camp was liberated, the soldiers were shocked to discover that the POWs had built a glider to try to escape. Not some hang glider, mind you. This was a cloth-covered, two-seater high wing design complete with working rudder and elevators. Rolt had come up with the idea after noticing that the roof was outside of prying eyes. It had been scheduled to take off in the spring of 1945, but the Americans that liberated the team rendered it unnecessary.
DIYing up a solution to a complex problem with extremely limited resources, very little outside help, and while maintaining intense secrecy? That’s extremely fucking badass.