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10. It was the end of November in 2015 when Santa Claus rented a taxi helicopter in Sao Paulo, Brazil saying he wanted to take part in a surprise Black Friday event. But halfway through the flight, the crafty Cris Cringle forced the pilot to fly to a small farm outside the city and land. Once there, a third man joined Santa and tied up the pilot. They got back in the chopper and took off. The pilot was able to free himself soon after and notified police. Authorities are still on the lookout for this Bad Santa.
9. Helicopter jail escapes are cool. Didn’t Lex Luthor try that once in Superman? But apparently it’s pretty cool for French inmates to do too. Pascal Payet did it three times! He used a helicopter to get out of a Luynes prison in 2001 and two years later, while still a fugitive, he used one to help other inmates from that prison escape. He was caught later but in 2007, while under extremely high surveillance, Payet took to the skies again with a chopper that had been hijacked by four men. Guess it pays to know people… and ones that can fly.
8. Robert K. Preston did something pretty remarkable in mid-February of 1974 – he had stolen a Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopter and landed it smack dab in the middle of the south lawn at the White House. He then promptly took off but flew right back overhead again, as protective service agents opened fire and forced him to land. The 20-year-old was upset he had been forced out of an Army program for helicopter candidates. Guess he wanted to prove he had the right stuff.
7. John Killick and Lucy Dudko pulled off possibly Australia’s most notorious prison breakout when Dudko forced a helicopter pilot at gunpoint to land at Silverwater jail in 1999 and retrieve her inmate boyfriend. The couple spent 45 days together before being caught, and they were banned from seeing each other until 2022 – when he will be 80 and she will be 64. Just in time to enjoy the crime….er…uhh… prime of their lives.
6. In Sweden, masked gunmen jumped from a helicopter onto the roof of a cash depot and smashed windows to make their way inside. The chopper hovered overhead for about 15 minutes as the robbers made their way to the money while the staff helplessly looked on. Police could not use their own helicopters to go after them because their hangars were marked with the word, “Bomb.” These guys were pretty smart because they also put spiked strips on the roadways leading to the money target. The robbers abandoned their stolen Bell 206 JetRanger helicopter at a recreational area near a lake north of Stockholm, about 15 miles from the cash depot. As the previously mentioned Bad Santa would say… Ho Ho Ho… Merry Christmas!”
5. In April of this year, in England, two men ran past children on an Easter Egg hunt and into an area of trees. A police helicopter soon appeared in the skies, obviously looking for criminals. Amazingly, these quick-thinking children, ages 6 to 12, lay themselves down on the field and made a human arrow, pointing in the direction of where the bad guys went. The men were spotted very quickly by police in the air, who alerted authorities on the ground of their location. And the men were arrested. Kinda rebuilds your faith in the young ones, doesn’t it?
4. In a secret American operation in 1988 to seize a crashed Soviet-made attack helicopter, two U.S. Chinooks flew about 500 miles to the site somewhere between Libya and Chad and were able to recover and secure it before the Libyans knew about their missing gunship. Despite sandstorms, the Chinooks reached the site and returned to N’Djamena with the Hind. The Mi-25 Hind was loaded onto a C-5 and the Chinooks on another C-5 and transported it to the United States.
3. Oh, what two French lovebirds will do. Nadine was determined to get her husband, Michel, out of prison, where he was serving some hard time for attempted murder and armed robbery. She finally came up with a scheme to take helicopter flying lessons, and once she knew what she was doing, she took a copter and landed it on the roof. Michel, meanwhile, had painted a bunch of tangerines to look like hand grenades as he fought his way to the rooftop and was whisked away by his pilot wife. They landed in a distant football field and drove a getaway car to freedom. But this love story didn’t end well. Nadine was arrested a short time later and Michel was shot in the head during a bank robbery.
2. In 1973, three Irish Republican Army volunteers escaped from a Dublin, Ireland prison aboard a hijacked Alouette II helicopter after it landed in the prison’s exercise yard. The officer on duty believed the copter contained the Minister of Defence…. For reasons unknown…. And at first paid no attention to the prisoners boarding it. All of a sudden, a big fight broke out between prisoners and prison guards, as the helicopter flew away. The escape was so famous, a song called The Helicopter Song became extremely popular… Here… like this… the helicopter song.
1. Ba Van Nguyen was a south Vietnamese air force pilot who stole a CH-47 Chinook and flew his wife and three young children out to the South China Sea. But when he realized he was running low on fuel, he radioed the nearby USS Kirk for an emergency landing. The ship’s captain told him he could not land the helicopter there for fear of sinking the small ship. But time was running out. So Nguyen hovered close to the ship and his wife and children, one by one, jumped into the waiting arms of several sailors. Nguyen then turned the helicopter out to sea and seconds before it crashed, he jumped into the waters. The copter crashed and sent shrapnel everywhere. But Nguyen emerged from the waters safely and was quickly rescued by the ship.
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