British-born land speed record holder killed in helicopter crash together with Roy Bennet

Charles Burnett III

A British-born world record holder was among five friends killed when their helicopter crashed in New Mexico on Wednesday.

Charles Burnett III, 61, died alongside Zimbabwean opposition leader Roy Bennett, his wife heather, pilot Jamie Coleman Dodd and co-pilot Paul Cobb as the group travelled to Mr Burnett’s ranch.

The sole survivor was Andra Cobb, Mr Burnett’s long-term partner and the daughter of the co-pilot who pulled herself from the burning wreck.

Mr Burnett, who was born in England but based in Houston, broke the land speed record for a steam powered car in 2009.

Charles Burnett III, 61, who broke the land speed record for a steam powered car in 2009 (pictured), was among five people killed in a helicopter crash in New Mexico

Charles Burnett III, 61, who broke the land speed record for a steam powered car in 2009 (pictured), was among five people killed in a helicopter crash in New Mexico

Mr Burnett was taking a group of friends to his ranch when their helicopter came down in a remote area, killing everyone on board except his long-term partner Andra Cobb

Police said they were alerted to the crash, which happened in a remote area, by Cobb who called them after dragging herself free

Police said they were alerted to the crash, which happened in a remote area, by Cobb who called them after dragging herself free

He drove vehicle Inspiration at an average speed of 139.8mph over two runs in the Mojave Desert in California, topping the previous record set in 1906.

Police said on they received a call at 6pm local time on January 17 about a downed helicopter.

In a statement, they added: ‘Raton, New Mexico Police Department received a 911 call from a victim in the crash who reported the incident.

‘The victim informed dispatch there were six people aboard the helicopter when it crashed.’

They said a wreckage was spotted in a rancher’s property east of Raton and was engulfed in fire.

The AP said Federal Aviation Administration records show the Huey UH-1 was registered to Sapphire Aviation LLC, which records show was linked to Mr Burnett.

The six were riding on board a Huey UH-1 which was owned by Burnett when it came down

The six were riding on board a Huey UH-1 which was owned by Burnett when it came down

Roy Bennett, a Zimbabwean opposition leader, and his wife Heather (pictured together in 2005) were also among those killed

Roy Bennett, a Zimbabwean opposition leader, and his wife Heather (pictured together in 2005) were also among those killed

Mr Bennett was jailed in Zimbabwe for pushing a minister to the ground during a debate

Mr Bennett was jailed in Zimbabwe for pushing a minister to the ground during a debate

The British-built steam supercar broke a 103-year-old world land speed record for steam-powered vehicles in the United States in 2009.

The 25ft-long British Steam Car – nicknamed the ‘fastest kettle in the world’ – reached an average speed of 139.843mph on two runs over a measured mile at the Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The timing beat the previous record of 127mph set by American Fred Marriott in a Stanley steam car at the Daytona Beach Road Course in 1906.

Mr Marriott’s timing was the longest-standing officially-recognised land speed record but it was beaten by the British team, based in Lymington, Hampshire, with Mr Burnett at the wheel.

An investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board was expected to arrive at the crash site on Thursday.

Police said Ms Cobb sustained serious injuries but was expected to survive. – Daily Mail