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Kalashnikov Pat & The Helicopter Jailbreaks

November 4, 2016

Since 1986 there have been 11 helicopter-assisted jailbreaks from French prisons. Three of them involved the same man.
Helicopter Jail Escape


Pascal Payet, a.k.a. “Kalashnikov Pat,” is one of France’s most notorious criminals. In 1997 he was arrested for armed robbery and murder after an attack on an armored truck, during which he shot a guard 14 times. Payet was sent to Luynes Prison in southeast France to await trial.


On October 12, 2001, a helicopter appeared above the prison exercise yard. A rope ladder was lowered, Pascal and one on other inmate climbed it, and the chopper flew off. The daring escape shocked French authorities and made headlines worldwide.

Escape II!

In May 2003, Payet was still on the loose when he and some associates decided to go back to Luynes Prison (in a hijacked helicopter) to pick up a few friends. Two of the men belayed commando-style down to the steel net that had been put over the exercise yard after Payet’s previous escape, sawed a hole in it and dropped a ladder through, and three inmates, all cohorts of Payet, climbed up. The helicopter landed in a nearby sports stadium, and the men left in a waiting car. The three friends were recaptured a week later; Payet, some months later. In 2005 he was sentenced to 30 years in Grasse Prison in southeast France.

Escape III!

On July 14, 2007, Payet escaped again—and again it was with a helicopter. This one was hijacked in the nearby seaside resort town of Cannes; it landed on the roof of a building at Grasse Prison half an hour later. Three armed men jumped out and overtook the guards, went straight to Payet’s cell, took him back to the chopper, and flew away. The chopper eventually landed at a local hospital’s heliport, and the men all disappeared. Payet was arrested in Spain two months later and is currently serving a lengthy sentence in a French prison. Where is the prison? Cautious French authorities refuse to disclose its location.
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