Markus was born in Berne on the November 14, 1942. He now lives in the small village of Belp, near the airport of Belpmoos, frequently nicknamed “Moosli”. It was here that in 1953 he had the opportunity to closely observe a helicopter for the first time. The newly founded Schweizerische Helikopter AG was presenting the Bell 47G HB-XAG, its first helicopter.
Markus inherited his interest in flying from his father Markus Sr., an ex-military pilot who became director of the Federal office of civil aviation (FOCA). As many millions of little boys in the world Markus’ dream was also to become a pilot.
On July 13, 1960, after the ground flight school, he did his first solo flight with a Piper L-4. His dream became reality a few years later in 1964 when he obtained the commercial airplane licence. In October of the same year Markus, along with other three pilots, was selected to be trained as a helicopter pilot by Heliswiss.
Markus began his helicopter instruction on November 9, 1964 flying the Bell 47G2 HB-XAT. For him it was the beginning of a new and fascinating experience. He immediately fell in love of that helicopter in which the pilot seats in the transparent fish-bowl cabin. On November 25, 1964 he received his private helicopter licence and on January 11, 1965 the commercial pilot licence n° 85. From that moment on he started his career as a commercial pilot transporting passengers and building material. Markus had logged about 200 hours on the Bell 47 when he was sent in the south desert of Tunisia to transport people and equipments for a geological expedition. Much later he also flew in Greenland doing the same job.
The 1970s - Commercial transportation
Before the beginning of the Summer 1971, Markus left Heliswiss and signed new job contracts, at first with Air Zermatt AG and much later with Bohag AG. With these companies he performed almost every kind of possible mission: passenger flights, transportation of building material, aerial works as, for example, the assembly of cableways, electric power lines, masts or aerial fire-fighting were all routine work for him. He also did more than 1'000 SAR missions for the Swiss Air Rescue Guard. In January 1978 he became the first Swiss helicopter pilot to receive the Robert E. Trimble Memorial Award for a spectacular mountain air-rescue.
The 1980s and 1990s - FOCA's flight inspector
From 1981 until his retirement he was employed by the FOCA as a flight inspector and VIP pilot. In this period he had the opportunity to fly new helicopter models. He did several SAR missions, and hundreds of VIP flights with the most important personalities, among them the presidents of the Swiss Federal council.
In 2000, after his retirement, he temporarily continued to fly with Heliswiss as a flight instructor. He then quit flying for good.
Markus is not only a pilot, but also an aviation historian. After his retirement he published the book “Mein Flugbuch, Erlebnisse und Abendteuer als Helikopterpilot” (My flight book, experiences and adventures as a helicopter pilot).
Markus has a remarkable experience as a pilot. During his 40 years long career, he flew different helicopters and aeroplanes from the Bell 47G to the AS. 332 Super Puma, and from the Piper L-4 to the three jet-engines Falcon 900. He has logged more than 13’000 flight hours and 60'000 landings on various helicopter models. Reminiscing the past he sometimes mentions the names of other pilots and work colleagues who were less lucky than him.
After more than 40 years, and thousands of flight hours under his belt, Markus recalls with nostalgia the roar of the Bell 47 Lycoming engine, dreaming about those wonderful years when he started flying helicopters.
Along with his friend he now enjoy to ride with his Harley-Davidson in Switzerland and abroad.