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German helicopter pilot killed in stunt performance

AFP/DPA/The Local · 9 Aug 2010, 08:30

Published: 09 Aug 2010 08:30 GMT+02:00

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The pilot, Gunter Zimmer, 74, was making "death loops" in his MD 500 helicopter when it crashed and burst into flames at the Borovaya airfield, which was hosting a Commonwealth of Independent States sport helicopter competition.

According to authorities in Minsk the aircraft went down just a few hundred metres from the crowd of spectators right after the competition began. The crowd reportedly fled the competition grounds in a panic.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known, but experts said they could not rule out that the experienced pilot from Dinslaken, North Rhine-Westphalia may have made a mistake or suffered from a health problem that lead to the accident.

Story continues below…

Zimmer had been a long-time member of the ODM German national helicopter pilot’s team.

AFP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

22:28 August 9, 2010 by snorge
Can someone please tell me why a 74 year old is flying a machine that physically taxes the hell out of a 20 year old and on top of that doing death loops? Seems like ti was only a matter of time before an accident would happen. Most guys that age are in retirement homes.... Helloooooo???
08:04 August 10, 2010 by wood artist
For years it was commonly believed that looping a helicopter was "impossible." Given the nature of the early machines, quite possibly that was accurate. Finally, the son (or grandson) of Sikorsky did it. Everybody thought he was nuts, which might have been an accurate observation.

I know of a couple guys who tried it in Vietnam. Both survived, but said they'd never do that again. As I understand it, you have to maintain such a high speed that the Gees are terrible, and unlike a high-performance airplane, the seat and absence of a g-suit make it much harder on the pilot. Also, you can't roll out of it on top if things start to go badly. All in all, not a maneuver to be taken lightly.
19:37 August 10, 2010 by Joshontour
@Hem... In English it is just called a loop; Local writers have the tendency to literally translate from German to English even if it makes no sense to. In German it is "Todes-Loopings."
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