France: The Helicopter Caper

The Helicopter Caper

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For six months a tiny brunet, known to her instructors as Lena Rigon, had been taking helicopter-flying lessons. In reality she was Nadine Vaujour, 34, wife of one of France's most carefully guarded prisoners, and she had learned her lessons well. At 10:45 last Monday morning, Nadine flew a rented chopper to Paris' Sante prison, dropped a rope onto the roof and picked up her husband Michel, 35, who still had 28 years to serve for attempted murder and armed robbery. In the confusion, another inmate was left behind. Minutes later, the helicopter landed in a nearby soccer field, where the couple jumped into a car and disappeared.

Michel's latest escape, his fourth since 1973, was at least as spectacular as his 1979 caper, in which he made a getaway after holding up an entire courtroom with a fake gun that he had sculpted out of soap.