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Berger Heidi

Heidi Berger was the first Swiss female (and probably the youngest in Europe) to obtain a commercial helicopter pilot licence.
She was born on December 1, 1941 in St. Gallen and is the daughter of the inventor (and builder of experimental helicopters) Hans Berger (1912-1994). Her career as pilot started very soon. In fact at the age of 6 she was already at the steering wheel of a mini automobile powered by a jet engine built by her father! Shortly before her 18th anniversary she obtained, at the airport of Stuttgart, a private aeroplane pilot licence at the controls of a Junker A50 Junior. She then flew privately with others models, such as the Piper J-3 Cub, the Bücker Bü 131 Jungmann, the Klemm Kl 35 and the Jodel D.9 Bebé. With this airplane she was forced to make an emergency landing after an engine failure. Luckily this episode ended without serious consequences. Unfortunately a similar accident happened again few years later while she was flying a helicopter used for aerial photography.
On March 2, 1961 Heidi obtained in Nuremberg the German helicopter private pilot licence. She then came back in Switzerland and on July 11, at the aerodrome of Speck-Fehraltdorf (Canton Zürich) she obtained the Swiss helicopter private pilot licence nr. 56.

On August 25, she crossed the Swiss Alps flying from Speck-Fehraltdorf to Samedan at the controls of the Brantly B-2 HB-XAZ. The exploit of the youngest female pilot was reported by many Swiss newspapers. On December 20, 1961 she obtained the commercial helicopter pilot licence nr 56.
She then worked as a pilot for Scania SA, a company which used a Brantly B-2 for aerial photography.
On January 28, 1967 after a short period of instruction she obtained the extension of her licence which enabled her to land on mountain.

On June 21 of that year she had the incredible opportunity to fly as a co-pilot on a Bell AH-1G Huey Cobra shortly tested in Switzerland by the Army. She then went to work for Heliswiss where she gained a considerable flight experience flying with Bell 47, Hughes 300 and Bell Jet Ranger.
At the controls of these various helicopters mentioned she logged over 2'500 hours of flight.
At the beginning of the 1970s she suddely stopped her flying career and during the successive years runned a gasoline station.
Heidi Berger died on December 18, 2004 at the age of 63 years.

HAB 07/2009