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Jean Baer

Jean Baer was born in Vevey/VD on the June 11, 1923. After the compulsory schools he become an engineer and worked for Nestlé from 1947 until 1955.
Since childhood he was very interested in aviation. For this reason he decided to obtain the license as an aeroplane pilot. He enrolled a flight course and started to fly at the airport of Lausanne-Blécherette. Trained by Alphonse Kammacher he obtained his A license in the early 1950s, which was followed in 1956 by the qualification as a private pilot (B license).
He was so enthusiast about his progress that he decided to left his job as an engineer to continue his aviation career, obtaining the restricted aeroplane commercial license, those of ground instructor, stund pilot and glacier pilot instructor.
He worked at the Kloten's control tower until the early mid of the 1960s. In that period he took part in the creation of the Montreux-Rennaz/VE aerodrome becoming its chief. When this aerodrome was closed he moved to Bex/VD where he assumed the same function.
From this aerodrome he did his first mountain supply flights using aeroplanes. Occasionally he also did some rescue flights for the SARG.
In 1964 he accepted a new job offer as chief-pilot and instructor of the Geneva's Aero Club, a position that he held until 1971.
In 1964 he also decided to become a helicopter pilot. He learned to fly helicopters with the Hughes 269A and B of the Rotorcraft SA of Geneva, the company which belonged to the famous entrepreneur William (Bill) Lear, who probably was also his helicopter instructor.
The following year Baer had an accident while taxiing in Geneva with a Piper Cub. The light plane was turned over when it was invested by the engines airflow of a huge jet plane during the take-off phase.
Baer obtained the helicopter commercial pilot license nr. 98 on April 6, 1966, and shortly after he become a flight instructor. In that same period the Aero Club Section Genève purchased the Hughes 269B HB-XCC, and Baer started to train helicopter pilots as well.

Unpleasant adventure

On April 24, 1968 while he was doing a transition course on the Bell 47G-3B-1 with the instructor Jean Seydoux the two had an incredible accident. While hoovering few feet over the ground Baer lost suddenly the helicopter's control after a mechanical failure (total loss of the cyclic control). Fortunately Seydoux pushed immediately down the pitch and the helicopter was heavely laid on the ground. If they were flying higher they almost certainly were died.
In 1968 Jean Baer played a decisive role in the creation of an organisation which will then become the permanent helicopter base of the civil defence of Geneva in April 1971. He became its responsible and was charged to train its first helicopter pilots. At the same time he started his new activity as a search and rescue pilot. At the beginning he flew with the Hughes 500HS HB-XCW and much later the Agusta-Bell 206B Jet Ranger HB-XEP.
During his free time he continued his activity as a flight instructor with the local Aero Club. On December 8, 1971, while flying with a student, he was again victim of a mechanical failure and was forced to land in autorotation. Fortunately nor him nor his student were injured, but the Hughes 269B HB-XCR was damaged beyond repair.
For medical reasons in 1977 he was forced to quit the flying activity. In the meantime he logged a considerable flight experience. Under his belt he had 5'550 hours on airplanes, and 2'150 on helicopters. The list of the helicopters he piloted includes: Hughes 269/300, Bell 47, Hughes 500, Bell 206 Jet Ranger.
By the following year he was employed as a manager at the international airport of Geneva. He worked there until his retirement in 1988. Since that moment on he lived between Vevey and Brittany, place where he died on September 9, 2004.
Jean Baer is described as a generous and quiet person who dedicated with genuine passion his life to the civil aviation. He is remembered too for his technical knowledges and his teaching qualities.

HAB 12/2010