Günther Amann

1962 - The young Günther pilot of the Heeresflieger

Günther Amann was born in Regensburg (Germany) on the 15th of November 1939. After his compulsory schooling he did an apprenticeship.
Much later on the 16th of April 1958 he commenced his compulsory military service in Bremen-Grohn.
In those days recruits who decided to stay with the Army for a period of at least three years could choose their military incorporation. Being interested in aviation he elected to serve in the Heeresflieger (army aviation).
At the beginning of November 1959, along with other candidates, he partecipated in the pilot selection process.
He passed the tests and on the 6th of November, at the airport of Bonn-Hangelar he made his first instruction flight on the Piper L4. During this course, which ended on the 18th of December 1959, he logged 25 hours of flight.
He started instruction as a helicopter pilot on the Agusta-Bell 47G-2 on January 15th 1960.
With this helicopter he achieved the ground and the mountain flying training (the latter taking place in Oberjettenberg Reiteralpe/Bavarian Alps).
He concluded the course on the 10th of September 1960 with 103 hours of flying time under his belt and was the proud owner of a "Militär – Flugzeugführerschein".
From the 5th of January 1961 until 26th of May 1961 Günther attended a new flying course piloting the larger Sikorsky H-34. During the military service he had to overcome many courses and was sent to different places. While in the Heeresflieger he became an IFR flying instructor on the Sikorsky H-34 and was mainly based in Bückeburg.

An important decision

At the end of October 1965 the young pilot took the decision to leave the army aviation. On the 7th of November 1965 he went to England where he met some managers of the Bristow Helicopter, one of the world’s largest helicopter services company.

Günther signed an employement contract with the British company and between 1966 and 1967 first worked in Nigeria and later in the Persian Gulf.

His main task was the transportation of people and equipments to the oil platforms. During this period he had the opportunity to fly with different helicopters such as the Westland-Sikorsky S-55 Series 3, the Hiller UH-12E4 and the Bell 204B. The latter was used to supply a building site at an altitude of 3’300 meters in the Zagros Mountains which are the largest mountain range in Iran and Iraq.

While he was in Teheran, along with his wife Gisela, he decided to return back to Europe. The couple was expecting their first baby and wanted to live closely to their families.

For this reason Günther sent several letters to European helicopter operators with the intent of finding a new employment.

One of these letters was addressed to Heliswiss who was looking for a new pilot for the Agusta-Bell 204B. Heliswiss’ chief pilot Walter Demuth informed him that in the meantime he had already found a pilot, but there was another Swiss helicopter company which was looking for a pilot.

Günther contacted Mr. Beat Perren the founder of Air Zermatt. They met in Zürich at the offices of Fritz Bühler the technical director of the Swiss Air Rescue Guard who helped Perren to set up the new Valaisan company.

By the end he decided to leave Bristow Helicopter and join the small Swiss team. At the beginning of 1968 he left Teheran and moved to Zermatt.

The start of flying activities in Switzerland

On the 28th of March 1968 he completed the transition course on the Agusta-Bell 206A Jet Ranger in Milan-Malpensa trained by Agusta’s instructor Dell’Aquila.

He completed the practical course on the new model in three hours. On the 1st of April 1968 he transferred the HB-XCL (Air Zermatt’s first helicopter) to Belp/BE. At that time he had a flight experience of 1’800 hours under his belt.

On the 10th of April the helicopter was transfered to Täsch/Valais where Air Zermatt has rented a barn to be used temporarily as the helicopter hangar.

On the 14th of April Günther performed his first rescue mission on the Swiss territory uplifting a boy with a broken leg to the hospital.

At the same time he started with the aerial supply of the numerous Valaisan mountain huts and the transportation of people and goods.

Remembering the start of his flying activity in Switzerland he says “The performances of the Agusta-Bell 206A Jet Ranger, especially at high altitude, were in fact quite limited. It was necessary to pilot the helicopter with extreme precision and whenever possible always take advantage of the ground effect. The Allison 250 C-18A turbo-shaft in fact had a limited power”.

April 1968 - Günther standing beside the Agusta-Bell 206A Jet Ranger HB-XCL, Air Zermatt's first helicopter

In 1970, along with his work colleague Siegfried Stangier, he took part in the 2nd international helicopter symposium organised by the Swiss Air Rescue Guard on the Kleine Scheidegg.

The two pilots, flying the SE 3160 Alouette III HB-XDA equipped with a winch, set down from the hovering helicopter mountain guides and paramedics at five different sites on the north face of the Eiger, a venture which until that day had been considered almost impossible.

In September 1971 Günther rescued two German mountaineers out of the same wall. This was the first direct-rescue out of the Eiger northface.

September 1971 - Günther Amann (left) and the alpine guide Rudolf Kaufmann photographed after the first direct-rescue out of the Eiger northface

For this historical rescue in 1972 he was awarded the prestigious “Robert E. Trimble Memorial Award” during the annual Helicopter Association International (HAI) meeting in Las Vegas.

The change to Bohag

Günther left Air Zermatt at the end of 1971 and went to work for BOHAG (Berner Oberländer Helikopter AG), a newly founded helicopter company in Interlaken/BE with the help of Air Zermatt.

He worked for this company until his retirement on November 15, 2004.

Some months earlier, on the 12th of February, at the controls of an AS 350B3 Ecureuil, he accomplished his 4’000 rescue mission (4’040 at the end of his career).

During his 45 years career as a helicopter pilot he piloted the following models: Bell 47, Sikorsky H-34, Hiller UH-12E4, Westland-Sikorsky S-55 Series 3, Bell 204B, Bell 206, Alouette III, SA 315B Lama, AS 350B2/B3 Ecureuil, Bell 412, Bell 407.

I asked him which was his preferrend helicopter to which he replied that he has tender feelings for the SA 315B Lama on which he logged more than 8’700 hours.

Altogether he logged more than 16’200 hours of flying time on helicopters.


Günther lives in Interlaken along with his wife and visits regularly his 5 grandchildren.

HAB 11/2011