Helicopter pilot falls to his death during parachute demonstration

A search was underway today after a pilot with no parachute fell to his death from his army helicopter during a regiment open day demonstration in Belgium.

The co-pilot of the Agusta A109 helicopter told authorities that he was looking out of the window to make sure three paratroopers taking part in Sunday’s demonstration had landed safely and avoided nearby power lines.

When he turned back to the pilot at 12.42pm, he was no longer in his seat and the helicopter door was open, the prosecutor’s office told broadcaster RTBF.

The helicopter nose had begun to lurch forward. The co-pilot took the command, righted and landed the helicopter and raised the alarm.

It is unclear whether the pilot, who has not been named, jumped or fell by accident during the parachute demonstration near Amay, which is in the French-speaking province of Liege.

The helicopter was flying at more than 1,300 metres at the time, Belgian media reported.

An investigation into the tragedy is underway but the pilot’s body has not been found.

Authorities this morning restarted their search for the body, which is made more difficult by heavy woods in the region of Amay.
Police and the military are involved in the search, which is using a helicopter with thermal imaging technology and police dogs.
Divers are also being used to search the nearby River Meuse in case the pilot fell into it.

Earlier this year, a US Navy skydiver died after his parachute failed to open during the New York harbour festival.