"We were hovering at 100ft max - so it came down very quickly, but there was a bloody big bang, both before we dropped an after we dropped."
"It was very lucky the fuel tank didn't explode. It was amazing - it was so quick."
Schama added: "When he wouldn't open the door that was the scary part and when he seemed to want to take off again. It was bizarre and it was a complete death wish - we could see the flames and the grass on fire outside the helicopter."
"Some guy was saying, 'keep calm, nobody move' - and we thought, 'No! - this thing is about to burst into flames'. When we were on the ground and they wouldn't let us out the door everybody got very angry and people got very upset.
"One thing about Russians is that their incompetence is total - so there was no lock on the door to the cabin so we opened it and made it absolutely clear that they had better turn the bloody engine off and open the door to let us out."
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Writer Simon Schama Survives Helicopter Cock-up
Historian/writer Simon Schama almost died when a helicopter -- apparently run by a company so awful it was blacklisted by the EU -- crashed to the ground shortly after take-off. The truly frightening part? The plane had plummeted 100 feet, flames were on the ground, people were scrambling for the lives out of the way...and the pilot apparently tried to take off again. The passengers thought maybe that was a bad idea.