Published: Mon, January 22, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Land speed record holder dies in helicopter crash

Land speed record holder dies in helicopter crash

The only survivor was Andra Cobb, the co-pilot's daughter and Burnett's long-term partner. But the rugged terrain and limited road access hampered the response, state police said.

In the USA city of Houston, Texas crashed helicopter with politicians from Zimbabwe on Board, killing five people, including a representative of the Zimbabwean opposition Roy Bennett and his wife Eileen.

Charles Burnett III, 61, a nephew of the late Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, was flying to his new ranch in northern New Mexico on Wednesday night with his friend Roy Bennett, 60, who had been a leading opponent of Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe.

Despite being white, he spoke fluent Shona and won a devoted following of black Zimbabweans who referred to him as "Pachedu, ' meaning 'one of us" for his stance as a strong advocating for political change.

Ranchers eventually spotted the helicopter, which was engulfed in flames. Gutu says Bennett's wife, Heather, also died in the crash.

Pilot Jamie Coleman Dodd also managed to phone authorities before he died, telling operators there were three dead and another three survivors - him, Andra Cobb and Zimbabwean opposition leader Roy Bennett.

Bennett survived a traumatic year in jail and death threats over his work.

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Born in England, Burnett was an investor and philanthropist with links to a wide range of businesses and a love of entertaining friends extravagantly.

Burnett held the world record for the fastest land speed reached in a steam-powered vehicle. Both Dodd and Cobb were experienced aviators who would not have taken unnecessary risks in the helicopter, Hill said.

The former Marine corporal was flying over the mountains, about 15 miles east of the small city of Raton, near the Colorado state line, at around 6pm when something went wrong.

The group was heading to the Emery Gap Ranch, a mountainous property on the Colorado-New Mexico border. "In 2005, Bennett also spent considerable time in prison under harsh, racist and inhuman conditions at the hands of state security personnel", said Chihwayi. Mugabe, who had repeatedly alleged Bennett was the opposition party's with foreign funders, refused to swear him in.

David Coltart, a former Zimbabwean education minister, said he was devastated and at a loss for words.

Bennett later returned to South Africa but remained a vocal critic of Mugabe's rule.

Bennett was arrested in Zimbabwe in February 2009 shortly before he was to be sworn in as deputy agriculture minister in a shaky coalition government after being accused of funding a plot to topple Mugabe years earlier.

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