Scots helicopter crews compete with Felix Baumgartner for aviation award

Photo: Georges Biard

SCOTS helicopter crews will compete with the man who fell from space for a prestigious aviation award.

Crews from two Super Puma helicopters have been nominated for the awards for the quick thinking in saving their colleagues lives in two separate North Sea crashes.

But they are up against Felix Baumgartner, the Austrian daredevil who broke the record for the world’s highest-ever jump in October last year.

Other nominees in the Flightglobal Achievement Awards include the UK air traffic control team who coordinated the huge surge in passengers during the London Olympics.

The winners of an online vote will be crowned “Aviator of the Year”.

The two helicopter crews were both involved in “ditches” in the North Sea as they ferried oil workers.

In May, 14 people were rescued when the Bond-operated Super Puma plunged into  the North Sea 25 miles off the coast of Aberdeen.

Five months later 19 people were rescued from a CHC-operated helicopter which ditched in thick fog between Orkney and Shetland.

The actions of the air crews in saving their colleague’s lives in have been praised by the offshore industry.

EC225 Super Puma helicopters across Scotland were grounded after the second incident.

In October last year, Felix Baumgartner became a worldwide sensation by free-falling from 24 miles above the New Mexico desert.

He reached a speed of almost 845mph and became the first person to break the sound barrier without being powered by a vehicle.

More than 8million people watched his feat live online, but trade union representatives hope the Scots crews can win.

Unite offshore regional organiser Tommy Campbell said: “One of the greatest achievements we can do as human beings is to save the lives of others – I can only hope that this will be uppermost in the minds of those determining who wins.”

Luke Farajallah, managing director of Bond Offshore Helicopters, said he was “immensely proud.”

He said: “The fact that all 14 passengers were brought safely home is testament to the quality of our pilot training and the rigour of those safety procedures practised on a daily basis.”

CHC regional director Mark Abbey said: “They train in order to be able to respond in a calm, controlled and professional manner in exceptional circumstances, and it is an honour to have their efforts recognised by the industry.”

Also nominated was the NATS Olympics team, who coordinated air traffic throughout the event.

Matevza Lenarcia, a Slovenian pilot who claimed the world record for flying around the world in the smallest aircraft to date, has also been nominated.

He completed the 50,000 journey in four months, using a 290kg (640lb) Pipistrel Virus-SW914.