13me Régiment de Dragons Parachutistes

Mid-June 2019, a French gazelle helicopter was shot down in Mali, the three crew were picked up by a Tiger helicopter, with one crewman each sitting on the landing gear and the third on the wing.

(Translated from French)
"Oh p… ..! They spat! Crash of the Gazelle… Crash of the Gazelle…" Nicolas, pilot of the Tiger helicopter who follows this night from June 13 to 14, 2019 the helicopter which has just crashed in Mali with three soldiers on board as part of Operation Barkhane , tells the magazine " 1:15 pm on Saturday " (replay): "I have the Gazelle in the field of vision and I see a ball of fire. at that point, it's over for the crew ... " And then, a message is sent to the command: " The two pilots are alive ... Three, three, the three are alive ... They are out, they are alive. "

Paco, the Tigre's skipper, then makes a choice that commits his life and that of the second pilot: "We are in action, so there is no time to be afraid. By quickly analyzing the situation, we can see it is now or never. We decide very quickly to go get them. " Despite the risks in this area where the jihadists started fire? "We have no choice. We see people who are alive, maybe in bad shape, and who need help. Humanely, we have no choice." He then places his device in the middle of the fighting zone.

"I went through the windshield of the machine with the seat on which I was still attached. I ended up with my legs inside and my body outside," said Kevin, chief of flight of the Gazelle. Adrien, helicopter pilot, remembers: "I'm tied in my seat and I see Kevin's feet sticking out of the canopy. I said to myself right away: 'No, not that. not us'." Max is the crew sniper: "The pain invaded my body. I didn't feel ready to move, but seeing the flames, I quickly understood that if I stayed there, it was over … " The soldier is very surprised to be still alive.

The pilot of the Gazelle manages to get out of the carcass but his legs no longer carry him: "I start to crawl in the sand" . They have very little time before the jihadists come to kill them. Max, the most slightly injured of the three, pulls Adrien towards the Tiger. As his legs do not respond, Kevin rolls on himself to move away from the Gazelle ready to explode. The wounded then hang onto the landing gear. "It is only Kevin who is secured by a lifeline. Adrien and Max stand with their hands and arms ... At any time, they can let go by loss of consciousness or with poor handling on my part" said Nicolas. This procedure, which "was never carried out in training or in combat", allowed to exfiltrate the three soldiers, received at the medical unit of Gao before being evacuated to France.
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