Daniel Holeczy saw combat with the most famous Hungarian fighter unit during World War II. Born in a small town in Hungary in February 1923, he was expected to follow his father and become a physician. However, a visit to an air show in Budapest kindled his love of flying and he later entered the Royal Hungarian Air Force (RHAF) Academy. He graduated in 1943, and went to the 1st Hungarian Fighter Group at Szolnok, Hungary, to fly the Italian-designed Reggiane 2000 fighter. In May 1944, he was sent to Germany to attend a Messerschmitt Me 109 and Focke Wulf Fw 190 conversion course. He then ferried aircraft from a factory near Leipzig to operational German fighter units throughout Europe.
In late 1944, he requested a transfer to an operational unit and was mistakenly posted to a Luftwaffe fighter wing to fly Fw 190s during the “Ardennes Offensive.” After two missions with the Luftwaffe, the mistake was discovered and Holeczy was sent home to the RHAF’s lOl “Puma” Fighter Regiment. By the end of World War II, he had flown 34 combat missions with the “Pumas” and claimed two victories; he shot down a Soviet Lavochkin fighter and an Ilyushin ground attack bomber. On 4 May 1945, the “Pumas” burned their Messerschmitts and surrendered–becoming the last Royal Hungarian Air Force unit to stop fighting.
After the war, Daniel Holeczy signed a two-year labor contract in exchange for passage to Australia. He arrived, with his family, in the spring of 1949, where it was soon discovered that he was a pilot. Finally, in 1951, after some odd jobs around the refugee center, he landed a job as an airline pilot with Australian National Airlines flying Douglas DC-3s. For more than 30 years, Holeczy flew for airlines around the globe including Cathay Pacific Airways (Hong Kong), Middle East Airlines (Lebanon), Balair (Switzerland), Bahamas Airways, and Bavarian Airlines (Munich).
During his time with Balair, he spent 2 months flying relief missions during the Biafran civil war in Nigeria. Forced to fly at night because of heavy anti-aircraft artillery fire, Holeczy often landed his Douglas DC-6 on narrow, flare-lit roads bordered by tall trees. He stretched the limits of flying safety to bring medical and humanitarian supplies to the Biafran refugees. He retired in 1983 with more than 21,000 accident-free flying hours. His logbook includes time in many aircraft, like piston-engined Douglas DC-3s, DC-4s, DC-6s, and turboprop Avro 748s and Lockheed Electras, and jets like the DeHavilland Comet 4 and Boeing 737. Holeczy retired as a captain from a German transport and charter airline.