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Operator of remote control helicopter dies

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Gaui X7 helicopter. Photo: Midland Helicopters
19:52 CEST+02:00
A 41-year-old man died after apparently being struck in a freak accident by the remote control model helicopter he was trying out in the canton of Lucerne, police reported on Thursday.

The man’s body was discovered on Wednesday night by a pedestrian in the Mauensee area, about 25 kilometres northwest of Lucerne, cantonal police said in a statement.

The dead man, from the canton of Nidwalden, suffered severe head and arm injuries, police said.

Investigators assume he suffered the fatal injuries while operating the helicopter.

The hobby craft was a Gaui X7 model, advertised on the internet at prices ranging from $900 to $1,400.

The 2.3-kilogram chopper, with a a 1.61-metre diameter main rotor, is 1.34 metres long and 37 centimetres high, according to the specifications from the TSH Gaui Hobby Corporation, a Taiwanese company.

The exact circumstances of the man’s death have yet to be clarified, police said.

The local prosecutor has launched an investigation into the case.

Deaths related to model helicopter accidents are rare.

One such case occurred near Houston, Texas in 2003, when Ronald Kyle, a remote control aircraft instructor, was struck in the throat by a model helicopter out of control.

Other such fatalities have been reported in Korea in 2005 and in Brazil 2008.

Non-fatal injuries are more common.

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The website Heliguy.com warns of the dangers of remote control helicopters, noting that the speed of a rotor blade can reach 413 kilometres an hour.

The website shows pictures of victims who have received cuts and bruises from accidents with the airborne craft.

It says the helicopters can be flown quite safely if operators are careful and regularly conduct a “pre-flight checklist”.

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