Fake news of the week: The anti-vax helicopter pilot
Did this heroic rescue helicopter pilot take a principled stand against vaccination? (he didn't)
Each week, in a partnership with Exberliner, CORRECTIV will bring you a piece of misinformation that has been circulating online – and the corresponding fact check.
This time, we examine a post that has been doing the rounds on Twitter and Telegram. The post purports to be sent by a heroic rescue helicopter pilot who, after transporting countless people to intensive care wards during the pandemic, resigned his job when the ADAC rescue company tried to force him to get vaccinated. His anti-vaccination stance was widely praised among certain circles online, with users sharing his message alongside captions like “my deepest respect for a man with some backbone” and “only together are we strong”.
Unfortunately for his fans, the heroic anti-vax helicopter pilot wasn’t real.
Alongside an image taken from the cockpit of a helicopter flying over a residential area, the text which was shared on January 22nd translates roughly as follows:
“I flew you to intensive care each day because things were going so badly for you. Now “you” despise me because I don’t want the vaccine?
I’m out, I’ve resigned. Fly yourselves!
The post was shared more than 1300 times. However, when Correctiv checked with the air rescue service ADAC, it was revealed that no air rescue pilots had resigned in January and they denied knowledge of the twitter user who first spread the claims. What’s more, Correctiv were able to trace back the image shared with the original post to a 2017 YouTube video that showed a precision landing of the “Christopher Europa 1” helicopter in Aachen, contradicting the original claim of the twitter user who had presented himself as a self-defence instructor from Stuttgart.
What can be confirmed is that, from March 2022, ADAC air rescue pilots will be required to present proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19, however, this man is simply not one of them.