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Air Zermatt

Until the creation of Air Zermatt the nearest helicopters were based in Sion. Because of the weather condition it could also happen that it was not possible to fly from Sion to Zermatt.
In fact it can happen that in Zermatt the sun is shining, while Sion is covered with fog. For these reasons a group of people leaded by Beat Perren decided to invest money and set up a new helicopter company.

At the beginning the idea to create a helicopter base in Zermatt was not accepted by a large part of the people. Hoteliers and residents were evidently preoccupied by the noise generated by the presence of an heliport. For this reason before the construction of the actual base, which has been erected on a rock promontory on the north of the village, the helicopter was temporary based in Täsch, a small village close to Zermatt.
Few days after its arrival to Switzerland the Jet Ranger piloted by the German pilot Günther Amann was called on duty to rescue an injured child. Contemporary it started its commercial activity mostly doing supply flights in the mountains surrounding Zermatt.

Since then Air Zermatt has developed constantly troughout the years.
In 1969 a second helicopter was purchased. It was the SA 3160 Alouette III registered HB-XDA which did countless SAR missions. Using the Alouette III pilots such as, for example, Günther Amann and Siegfried Stangier showed for the first time that the helicopter was capable of missions until that moment considered impossible.
In the spring of 1971 Air Zermatt purchased the HB-XDI, the first SA 315B Lama to be registered in Switzerland. Few months later is was followed by another machine of the same time registered HB-XDL. With this helicopter Günther Amann on 12th of September 1971 rescued two German alpinist in serious difficulty on the famous Eiger north wall.
For this mission he received the «Salute to excellence - Robert E. Trimble memorial award». This American distinction (assigned to crews or individuals) has recognized some of the most dramatic displays of courage and heroism involving the use of an helicopter.

Over the years Air Zermatt developed a series of special equipments for its various missions. It is here to mention for example a model of bucket for fire fighting operations, a platform for the rescue of cableway passengers, the long-line, etc.
With its spectacular rescue operations the Valaisan company has built a solid reputation that soon crossed the national boundaries.
Even the helicopter rescue techniques have been refined through experience accumulated over thousands of operations. Many of these were carried out at high altitudes and or under extremely difficult weather conditions.
Apart the helicopters already mentioned in the course of the years the company used other helicopter models such as for example the SA 341J Gazelle, the SE 313B Alouette II, or larger machines such as the SA 330J Puma or the Bell 412.

In addition to the heliport at the northern edge of the village, Air Zermatt has operating bases in Sion, Gampel and Raron where are carried out the more challenging maintenance works.

Nowadays the fleet is largely made ​​up of Ecureuils to which are added the EC-135 T2 HB-ZEF and the Bell 429 HB-ZSU (which came into service in autumn 2012), both primarily used for search and rescue operations.
The company currently employs over 50 employees including pilots, mechanics, flight attendants, medical and administrative personnel.

HAB 04/2014