Ever since I watched Force Majeure, I’ve been absolutely horrified at the prospect of getting stuck in the Alps while skiing somewhere. As it happens, a skier in the Alps got stuck on the slopes at the start of the year after a knee injury kept him from continuing down. And the helicopter pilot who saved him pulled off a super-clean version of one of the toughest things to do in a helicopter.
The video was posted on Facebook by a man named Nicolas Derely, who was skiing with a group of friends. One of his companions, Bruno, got exhausted and had a nasty fall, according to CNN International. Despite being over 7,000 feet above sea level, they managed to place an emergency call. And goddamn is the rescue video incredible to watch.
The Peloton de Gendarmerie de Haute Montagne (or, the French Mountain Police) responded to the call. While Bruno’s friends filmed, the helicopter nudged into the steep slope of the Anterne Pass. The pilot managed to tuck the right landing skid onto the snow, a feat that allowed the rescue team to secure a knee brace and lift Bruno to safety.
This sort of thing is known as a pinnacle landing, and while you may have seen the military use it before to evacuate soldiers off a mountainside, it’s also used to rescue non-soldiers off a mountainside, because everyone is just people. The FAA has a whole guide on how to pull off a pinnacle approach, if you want to run down to your garage, grab your helicopter, and try it right now. But just know that it’s best to try it heading into the wind.
This whole procedure was performed with the rotor blades of the helicopter just inches away from the snow and an incredibly steady hand by the pilot. It’s impossible not to be impressed.