Gangster flees French prison using chopper

Faid's other hero is Jacques Mesrine, the most celebrated French criminal of modern times. "It was an extremely well-prepared commando unit that may have used drones to survey the area beforehand", she told reporters.

Faid was convicted of the murder of the policewoman, along with two accomplices.

But in April, he was sentenced to 25 years for masterminding a May 2010 armed robbery that turned into a gunfight, killing a female police officer.

The crime took place when Faid's brother was visiting him.

Redoine Faid, 46, broke out of the prison in Paris within minutes with the help of three heavily armed men. Unarmed guards said they could do nothing to prevent it.

The helicopter was later found abandoned in the town of Garges-les-Gonesse, in the northern suburbs of Paris. Faid was believed to have left by vehicle along with his accomplices.

The hijacked pilot, a member of a flying club near Paris, was released unharmed, Belloubet said.

Redoine Faid was in prison for armed robbery. Le Point reports that prisoners don't go into that courtyard which is why there was no overhead netting. Investigators were questioning his brother on Sunday afternoon.

Faid, who has a cult following in the tough immigrant suburbs outside Paris where he grew up, has made several television appearances.

He was arrested in 1998 after three years on the run in Switzerland and Israel, according to French media.

A notorious French gangster just pulled off a blockbuster-like jailbreak by escaping prison via helicopter.

In 2009, Faid wrote a book titled "Robber: Cities of Organized Crime", in which he explored his childhood growing up in Paris' marginalised neighbourhoods, or banlieues.

Incredibly, it's not the first time Faid has been involved in a spectacular jailbreak. He received an eight-year prison sentence in 2011 - interrupted by the 2013 breakout.

The helicopter used in the prison escape was found in a northeast suburb of Paris. Authorities later learned that Bourgain spent months before the escape teaching herself how to fly a helicopter.

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