July 17, 2007 — -- A convicted killer is at large after he bust out of a prison in France on Saturday in a Hollywood-style helicopter escape that left authorities stunned.
This was the third escape plot arranged by 43-year-old Pascal Payet in six years, the second in which he escaped himself.
The latest dramatic getaway was his second helicopter-assisted breakout. Payet also arranged a helicopter escape for fellow inmates four years ago.
This time it was on Bastille Day, the French holiday commemorating the storming of a prison, and Payet did it in high style.
First, four men hijacked a helicopter in Cannes. They ordered the pilot to fly 20 minutes north to the Grasse Prison, where they landed on the roof, infiltrated the prison, freed Payet and took off — a prison break in less than five minutes.
Soon after the escape, the helicopter landed and Payet and his four assistants fled the scene, releasing the pilot unharmed.
"There was no violence," the pilot said. "They told me if I followed orders there would be no harm."
The pilot was luckier than he might have realized. Payet was six years into a 30-year sentence for murder.
Stunned, French authorities are appealing to the public for clues on the hunt for the convict.