A true pioneer of helicopter transportation. He was one of the earliest to fly the Agusta-Bell 204B in Switzerland.
Helmut Hugl was born in Vienna on the 26th of December 1937. After his compulsory schooling he commenced his apprenticeship as an electronic and radio technician which he concluded in 1954.
In Autumn 1956 he commenced his compulsory military service in Zeltweg, which is nowadays Austria's largest military airbase.
Following initial ground instruction he began his pilot training flying light airplanes.
During 1959 he commenced his helicopter training in Langenlebarn on the (Agusta-)Bell 47G2. That same year he started the training to become assistant-instructor. Later he obtained the qualification as a flying instructor. Among his students there were also Georg Wedtgrube and Walter Hügel, both well known in Switzerland, especially in the south of the Alps, for their brilliant career as Rega pilots.
In 1959 Helmut Hugl did the transition course on the SE 3130 Alouette II and that same year he began work as a flying instructor in Langenlebarn.
In 1961 he did the transition course on the Westland S-55 Whirlwind and completed the mountain flying training.
The following year he served as personal pilot of (at that time) lieutenant colonel Gustav Hauck (who later became brigadier), nicknamed the “father of the vertical flight” by the Austrian soldiers. Hauck in fact was the first to obtain a helicopter pilot license, and promoted the development of the military rotary-wing.
In 1963 Helmut Hugl went to Italy where he completed the technical course on the Agusta-Bell 204B, the first of which entered in service with the Austrian army in June of that same year.
At the beginning of 1964 his ex-student Georg Wedtgrube, who had in the meantime joined Heliswiss (January 1964), informed him about the possibility to work as a commercial helicopter pilot in Switzerland. Attracted by this interesting opportunity the young pilot instructor decided to quit the army.
Heliswiss helicopter pilot
Helmut Hugl signed an employement contract with Heliswiss and on the 1st of July 1964 he began to work in Switzerland.
At that moment he had a flight experience of about 400 hours under his belt.
The Federal Office of Civil Aviation issued him the helicopter Swiss commercial license nr. 76.
His main task was the transportation of building materials and people mainly using the Agusta-Bell 204B HB-XBO.
Among his first jobs in Switzerland there was the transportation of several hundreds tons of building material for the constuction of the power line between the villages of Magadino and Manno, and the drilling equipment on the Lukmanier pass.
As a flying instructor he trained several pilots on that helicopter type. Among the first was Walter Tschumi (who later became Heliswiss’ chief-pilot) Jean-Pierre Füllemann and much later Jean-Bernard Schmid, another historical Heliswiss’ pilot.
During Spring 1965 the Austrian pilot left for Rhodesia and Angola where he carried out aerial survey and mapping flights using a Hiller UH-12E of Autair Helicopters. With this helicopter he was involved in an accident shortly after take-off (main transmission failure). Nobody was injured but the helicopter was seriously damaged.
After his return to Switzerland he took part in the creation of the new helicopter base of Domat-Ems/GR.
In Autumn 1966 Helmut Hugl left for the United States to obtain the American helicopter pilot license, at that time an indispensable document to work in foreign countries. In those years in fact a considerable part of the total flight time logged by Heliswiss’ helicopters took place outside Switzerland, covering most parts of the world. E.g. Helmut Hugl left for Saudi Arabia during spring 1967, returning a few months later to recommence duty in Domat-Ems. During that period he was also charged to train some British and Dutch pilots.
Pilot in Suriname
In April 1968 Helmut Hugl packed again his bags this time heading for Surinam. In that South America country, characterized by the lack of roads, Heliswiss jointly with KLM Aerocarto, obtained an important contract for aerial survey. Agusta-Bell 204B HB-XBO was initially used for the transportation of people and equipment. Much later Heliswiss dispatched a second helicopter, a Bell 206A Jet Ranger.
The crew of the first Heliswiss mission in Surinam consisted of pilot Helmut Hugl, flight engineers Hans Riers and Eduard Krebs, and the Dutch pilot Wim Lambermont.
After his return to Switzerland the Austrian pilot went back to work in Domat-Ems until 1969.
That same year Heliswiss created a subsidiary in Austria named Helikoptergesellschaft mbH (Heliaustria) and appointed Helmut Hugl as manager.
The following year he became a flight examiner, while in 1971 he joined the Austrian commission of the aircraft accident investigation bureau as helicopter expert.
In 1972 in Marignane (France) he completed the technical course on the SA 315B Lama. Few years later in 1977 he created the Heliaustria flying school, and trained private and commercial pilots until 1979 when he left the company.
In 1980 Helmut Hugl entered Heliair as regional director and pilot. During that period he completed several transition courses on new helicopters such as for example the Hughes 500 and the twin engine Bell 212 and AS 355 Twin Ecureuil.
In 1982 he temporarily left Heliair and went to work as a VIP pilot for ing. Hans Drescher of Wien.
The following year he returned to work with Heliair and took part in the creation of the new Österreichischer Automobil-, Motorrad- und Touring Club (ÖAMTC) Christophorus 2 base (rescue flights operations) which opened its doors on the 1st of September 1983 in Krems, followed by the base of Christophorus 3 in Wiener Neustadt which started its activity on the 15th of September 1984. For these organisations he flew the AS 355 Twin Ecureuil.
Helmut Hugl continued his flying activities until 1989.
He then lived in Vienna where he died after a brief illnes on October 19, 2014.