Karel Balík was born in Pilsen on October 25, 1903 .
He went to basic school in Pilsen, then trained as a mechanical locksmith. He was a co-founder of the West Bohemian Aviation Club Plzeň, where he obtained his aviation diploma with his brother Jaroslav.
He worked as a transport pilot for twelve years and was the captain of the Czechoslovak Aviation Company then. He was the first to fly a million kilometers, that is where his nickname The Millionaire came from.
At the beginning of World War II, he went to Poland. However, he was captured and taken to the gulag. In Moscow, he was forced to draw air routes and locations of European airports on maps. He was released thanks to Heliodor Píka and Ludvík Svoboda. In 1940 he joined the RAF. A year later, he was transferred to a special unit of the RAF Atlantic Ferry Command, which provided aircraft crossings from the USA to Britain.
On April 5, 1942, he became one of the first two Czechoslovaks to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. They completed a route longer than five thousand kilometers on the route from Canada to Scotland on a twin-engine Catalina seaplane.
After the war, he joined the ČSA, but he soon planned to change jobs, as the Dutch company KLM offered him a job. On his last ČSA flight, which was the opening of the route from Prague to Paris, he crashed before landing in Prague and died as a result of his injuries.
In bad weather, he unsuccessfully tried to land three times, on the fourth attempt the plane got too low and hit the road from Prague to Slaný. A fire started and could not be extinguished for a long time, paradoxically the plane ended up in the drained retention tank. Of the 15 people on board, three passengers and the other pilot survived. Balík still helped in the recovery, but he died in a military hospital in Prague.
The writer Jiří Stránský was convinced, based on information from Balík’s acquaintances and colleagues from the RAF, whom he met in prison in the 1950s, that it was an act of Soviet agents. Among other things according to him, they issued an instruction to turn off the lights on Ruzyně airport and turn off the navigation tower’s radio sight.
With his wife, he had a son, Karel, and a daughter, Jitka, who became the wife of writer Jiří Stránský.
Yesterday, we paid honor to his memory by laying flowers at the monument of the West Bohemian Aeroclub, where Karel Balík is mentioned on.