Lötscher Anton (Toni)
Toni Lötscher was born on May 1st, 1949 in Marbach (Canton Lucerne). Since his childhood he has been attracted to aviation. After the compulsory school, as many other pilots, he completed an apprenticeship as an automobile mechanic, as which he worked for some years, and then decided to get his helicopter pilot license.
For this reason he enrolled in the Heliswiss school in Belp/BE. On October 11, 1971 he did his first instruction flight piloting a Bell 47. His first flying instructor was Silvio Refondini. A few weeks later, on October 29, he got his private pilot license.
On August 10, 1972, trained (among other instructors) by chief-pilot Walter Demuth, he obtained the Swiss commercial pilot license n° 145, and on December 20, he got the extension which enabled him to land on mountains.
Almost at the same time, he did a transition course on the Bell 206 Jet Ranger, the second helicopter on his license. That same year he started his activity as a Heliswiss commercial helicopter pilot flying in Switzerland and abroad, especially in Italy, Austria, Suriname and Greenland.
In Greenland he transported engineers and geologists with their equipment. He also flew in Norway where he was charged to transport the drilling equipment from a ship to the isle of Spitzenbergen where an oil company was building a drill station.
In Autumn 1974, with a flight experience of 1'200 hours under his belt, Toni quit Heliswiss and went to work for Air Zermatt. Here he was trained to fly the SA 3160 Alouette III and the SA 315B Lama. He then started to do the first supply flights for the many Valaisan mountain huts. Transportation of passengers and building materials, as well as seightseeing flights, quickly became routine.
In Valais, where he was surrounded by peaks of over 4'000 meters, he immediately realised that the degree of difficulty was much higher. In fact Air Zermatt operates with its helicopter at high altitude on a daily basis.
Much later he begun with search and rescue missions. In addition to the above mentioned flying activities, he then started to do aerial assembly, logging, aerial fire fighting, and much more.
In those years he also obtained his aeroplane private license (1976).
While working with Air Zermatt Toni had the opportunity to fly larger and more powerful helicopters, such as the SA 330J Puma and the Bell 412.
During his 17 years with Air Zermatt he logged 10'600 hours of flight and 2'111 SAR missions.
Toni quit Air Zermatt
In 1992 he quit the Valaisan company to enter the Rega team as vice-chief pilot and flight instructor. From 1993 until 2004 (year of his retirement as a Rega pilot) he worked as chief-base for the Berner Oberland base. Here he logged 3'277 hours of flight and 1'500 SAR missions.
In 2001, during the Heli Expo in Anaheim/California, the annual event entirely dedicated to the rotary-wing, Toni received the prestigious “Salute to Excellence - Robert E. Trimble Memorial Award", for his brilliant aviation career.
Despite the fact he had already logged over 15'000 hours of flight he didn't give up.
As a standby pilot he continued to work for Air Zermatt, Bohag and Alpinlift.
In 2005 he joined the Karen team at the request of his ex-work colleague Enzo Carlino, another well known expert pilot and aviation consultant. At the beginning of June, along with 50 tons of equipment needed for the construction of a new hangar, he left the airport of Milan-Malpensa on board of the giant Antonov 124 directed to Tajikistan, where he then piloted the Agusta-Westland 139 acquired by the Aga Khan foundation.
His considerable flying experience was very helpful there because helicopters were used to transport people and goods at much higher altitudes than the Matterhorn itself (4'478 m), and with temperatures that at 3'000 meters still exceed 30°C!
That same year he did countless SAR and supply flights in Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan where the population was hit by a violent earthquake.
In the meantime he was also active as a Karen instructor. Between 2005 and 2007 he went to Tanzania and Nigeria for Agusta.
In 2007 he also went to Slovakia to train the pilots of Air Transport Europe, the SAR company which acquired a part of the ex-Rega Agusta A109K2.
Between 2009 and 2010 he worked as a flight instructor for Karen and Agusta.
Toni has 16'500 hours of flight experience under his belt and has flown with the following helicopters: Bell 47, Hughes 269, Bell 206, Bell 205, Bell 412, SA 315B Lama, Alouette II, Alouette III, SA 330J Puma, SA 341/342 Gazelle, AS 350 Ecureuil, Agusta A109, Agusta-Westland 139.
In 2007 he published a book where he narrates a part of his countless experiences.
Politics are among his interests, in addition to aviation obviously.
In 2011 I asked him about his future projects and his answer was “I want to enjoy my retirement!”.
Reminiscing about the past he says that pilots were almost free as birds, and people were always happy when a helicopter landed in a village, especially the children.
“At least here in Switzerland, now everything has changed”, unfortunately I add.
Nowadays Toni lives in Unterseen and enjoys beautiful walks on foot or by mountain bike.