Notable helicopter jailbreaks from around the world

They may be dramatic, but chopper prison breaks aren't as rare as you might expect

Police block the road leading to a detention centre in St. Jerome, Que., Sunday, after two prisoners escaped by helicopter. (Graham Hughes/CP)

Two Quebec inmates staged a dramatic helicopter escape from prison Sunday and were captured shortly after. Here are some other notable helicopter prison breaks:

—A New York businessman convicted of murder, Joel David Kaplan, used a chopper to escape from a Mexican jail in 1971, and went on to write a book about it. The caper also inspired the 1975 movie “Breakout,” starring Charles Bronson.

—What is believed to be Canada’s first prison escape by helicopter took place in 1990 when Robert Ford and David Thomas were whisked away from a maximum security facility in British Columbia. RCMP captured them two days later on nearby Echo Island.

—A former senior Panamanian police official, Eduardo Herrera, escaped from prison on the Pacific island of Nao aboard a private helicopter in 1990. He was captured by authorities shortly afterward after attempting to take over police headquarters in Panama City.

—Four leftist guerillas escaped from a high-security prison in Santiago, Chile, by jumping into a large basket dangling from a helicopter and flying away amid gunfire.

Russian-born Lucy Dudko rented a helicopter for an alleged sightseeing trip in 1999 and then forced the pilot at gunpoint to land at Australia’s largest maximum security prison in Sydney to pick up her lover, convicted armed robber John Reginald Killick. The pair were on the run for a month before they were caught.

—Pascal Payet, a French prisoner, used a helicopter to escape on three occasions, the latest on July 15, 2007. He was caught by authorities every time.

—Inmates Alket Rizaj and Vassilis Paleokostas escaped twice by helicopter from a maximum-security prison in Athens, Greece, with a fellow inmate in 2006 and 2009. Both were recaptured separately. Rizaj attempted to break out of another Greek lockup this weekend, this time without a helicopter, and surrendered to police after a 24-hour standoff.

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