This Notorious Bank Robber Just Made a 'Spectacular' Prison Escape Using a Helicopter


A successful jailbreak typically requires some sort of highly sophisticated plan to outwit the authorities and get around whatever high-security systems may be in your way. Or, alternately, all it takes is to get a few friends to fly a helicopter into the prison yard and then high-tail it out of there in broad daylight. That's the approach one notorious bank robber took this past weekend when he literally choppered his way out of a French prison, and amazingly enough, it wasn't even the first time he's managed to escape the big house by employing especially clever means.

Redoine Faid, an infamous French gangster who was serving a 25-year sentence for a botched armed bank robbery that killed a police officer, made the daring escape on Sunday morning after a trio of armed accomplices hijacked a helicopter, landed it in the yard of the Sud-Francilien prison outside Paris, and burst into the building to grab him. The whole operation went down in a matter of minutes, and all while Faid was in a special visitor's area of the jail chatting with his brother who'd come to see him. As of this writing, they're all still on the lam, and there's a massive manhunt underway to catch everyone involved.

To pull the whole thing off, the heavily armed accomplices reportedly hijacked a helicopter from an airfield near the prison and forced a flying instructor waiting for a student to assist them. They then landed it in one of the jail's courtyard's, grabbed Faid at gunpoint, and fled to an area nearby where they torched the chopper and hopped into a getaway car. Eventually, they hopped into a different getaway vehicle (torching the first one), and have since evaded authorities. The helicopter pilot was released unharmed, though he did have to go to the hospital to be treated for shock. 

In the wake of the incident, French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet traveled to the prison, and described the escape as "spectacular." Interestingly, the courtyards and open-air areas of French prisons are almost all protected with netting to prevent this exact sort of thing from happening after a spate of similar helicopter escapes in the late 2000s. However, there wasn't one installed in this particular one because it was reportedly only used by inmates when they were being admitted or released from the facility. 

Incredibly, this is Faid's second bold prison escape, having pulled off another daring one back in 2013 when he used dynamite to blow himself out of a different jail. He was eventually captured six weeks later when authorities tracked him down in a cheap hotel room. 

The well-known robber who once denounced his life of crime after being released from a previous prison sentence has made several TV appearances and even co-authored two books about his life story, according to the Telegraph. He has also said that he modeled his lifestyle after gangster movies like Scarface and Heat.

Faid's brother has been taken into custody for questioning, and authorities have set up checkpoints in and around Paris in hopes of tracking the convict and accomplices down. 

h/tTelegraph, BBC

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.