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Tributes to 'larger than life' victims of helicopter crash.

TRIBUTES poured in last night for two Midland men killed in a helicopter crash in France.

Martin Rutty, 50, from Shropshire, and Simon Lichtenstein, 49, from Herefordshire, died in a smash in the town of Sospel.

Last night the men were described as "larger than life" characters by British Helicopter Team manager David Monks, who said they had been two of the most popular and active members of the team.

"They were both extremely capable pilots and joined forces in 1999 with Martin flying and Simon co-piloting," he said.

"They went on to gather many prizes, winning the British National Championship four times and they were part of a British Team that won a bronze medal at the World Helicopter Championship in 2008.

"Not only have we lost two great competition pilots, we have lost two very dear friends who will be very sorely missed by us all. They simply loved flying and brought that infectious passion to many others."

The men crashed shortly after take-off from the French town of Sospel near the Italian border, while heading towards the city of Avigno late on Thursday.

Witnesses in the Southern French village of Tourrettessur-Loup described seeing the aircraft go out of control and crash into trees.

CAPTION(S):

DIED: Martin Rutty, 50
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Dec 12, 2010
Words:212
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