Milan Knor was born
in Belgrade, Yugoslavia September 15, 1938. In 1941, his father, an artillery
officer in the Royal Yugoslav army, was captured and sent to Germany as
a prisoner. When the war ended, he chose to remain in Germany, but
as a political refugee. As a result of this defection, Knor and his
mother were blacklisted and their five-room house and career opportunities
were removed. If this were not enough, his mother, having found a job as
a cook in the home of a French attaché in Belgrade, was forced to
live in at the job, and Milan, sent off to a relative, suddenly found that
little remained for him in Yugoslavia.
At fifteen he made his first contact with aviation, joining the Belgrade Aero Club, where he made his first model aircraft and later learned to fly.
In 1958 he attended an international camp in England for a little less than a year. Being warned that asylum might not be granted he dared not request it. His mother remained in Yugoslavia as a guarantee to the government that he would return, which he did.
On the way back home he stopped off in Germany to visit his father who by that time had divorced his mother and remarried. His father feared he was a Communist spy or party member and the happy reunion soon turned to distrust. Their relationship was ended.
Because Knor had returned to Yugoslavia and Communism, his mother, now somewhat trusted, was allowed to go to England and work for Reuters in London.
Beginning in 1960, Milan began to devise the scheme that was eventually to carry him to America, the 1962 Sixth World Sport Parachuting Championship and freedom.
He begin to train for the Yugoslav parachute team which would make the trek to America, but not before he had emerged from an Austrian meet as high scorer for Yugoslavia. He had once more returned to his country, further improving his facade as a loyal adherent of Communism for the Yugoslav officials.
In 1962, the final training began and he was chosen as alternate to the group of nine which would became five for the trip. At the end of the trial period, Knor had won a berth to freedom.
On September the 3rd, the final day of the championship, as the last of the awards were presented and the friendship jumps began, the 23 year old Knor, assisted by friends, made his break for freedom.
Before hand, when he officially ask for asylum, the government granted it on the condition that he must get himself off the Orange DZ grounds. During the Meet, the DZ and the local high school which was used as a dorm and called the "Friendship Lodge", had a strange diplomatic immunity similar to the UN building. The boundaries were well defined and had snow fences around it.
Knor and the "helpers" got him over the fence and into a car full of federal agents which was waiting outside the fence at a designated site. The car whisked him secretly to a safe house in Athol, Massachusetts.
It took a couple days or so for the intricate planning and actual escape to be learned to some extent. The story was quickly picked up by local (Orange, Athol, Greenfield) and regional (including Boston and Springfield) newspapers and was treated as a major international incident with political overtones.
Tom Butler, Chief Interpreter at Orange and professor of Russian Language at Tufts University in Medford, Mass,, arranged for his acceptance into the Tufts Engineering School in Boston where Knor studied engineering. To aid in his defection, local jumpers from as far south as Florida set up a survival fund for Milan which was handled out of Boston by professor Butler, Ann Wood, of NAA and the Massachusetts Commission, Archibald Walker of Boston, and David Bird of Boston. The actual fund was handled by the International institute of Boston and were tax deductible. The business end was handled by Bison Associates, 184 Boston Street, Boston. Knor stayed with Professor Butler in Cambridge for the first semester until he could get on his feet. The next semester he adjusted to America and moved in with three other Tufts students on campus.
Along with the money from individuals and jump clubs, hundreds of messages of well wishing poured in and allowed Milan to attend college.
Milan, now called "Maxie" changed schools and worked for Pioneer Parachute Company. He then became a member of CPI, then only a few years old, while he was employed by Pioneer. He graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1973 after his accident test jumping the Regola Wing for Pioneer and got a degree in Environmental Engineering.. Maxie was also involved in the experimental program that was trying to develop a safe, midair, pilot recovery system for the military.
Maxie was in the plane, running the winch, when Chuck Alexander jumped from another plane, deployed his canopy, which had a special long bridle, and was snatched in midair and winched into the second plane.
Maxie married Kim (Kimberly) Emmons, a member of the 1964 U.S. Team (by virtue of her 6th place standing in the women's event of the 1963 National Parachuting Championships) and they resided in Manchester, Connecticut, where Maxie worked. Kim was an optometrist and for a while she practiced in Manchester, CT. They moved to Florida after he graduated college and lived there for 25 years. He worked as a City Engineer in various cities in South Florida. Max and Kim left Florida and move to Cadillac, Michigan, home of her parents.
Mxie's oldest daughter left Ft. Lauderdale to go to University at Colorado for her undergraduate degree and then into Colorado State Veterinary School of Medicine. She graduated there in 1995 and works for Alameda East Veterinary Hospital where the TV show, "Emergency Vets" found on the Animal Planet channel, was filmed. You will frequently see Dr. Holly Knor on that show and she is now part owner of that hospital. Maxi's wife Kim is also seen on the show occasionally.
His second daughter has a coordinator position at the Lions Eye Bank and is following in her mothers footsteps.
We are sorry to report that Maxie died of an aneurysm without warning on July 7, 1997 at the age of 57 years old.
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