French Tony Danza Escaped Prison in a Chopper…3 Times

High-security and constant surveillance in solitary couldn’t keep him behind bars.

Dave Gamache
Dec 10, 2013 · 3 min read
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Take a good hard look at this French Tony Danza. His name is Pascal Payet, and behind that blank-faced mug is the all-time, most-gangster prison escapist.

After committing a handful of petty crimes in the late 80's and early 90's, Pascal went big and robbed an armored car with 3 buddies. For 2 years they lived large, until 1999 when they were captured and imprison in Luynes, France.

In 2001, Payet decided he was over the cell-block life, hijacked a copter from the prison’s helipad, and flew off into the sunset to freedom.

Now, the average crook would disappear with the remaining loot and live the smug hermit life ever after…but not Payet.

Being a forever-alone fugitive must have gotten to him because less than two years after his incredible escape, Payet flew back to the same prison he was detained in to break out his homies.

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The facts are, that he choppered in, loaded the original “armored car” crew in, and peaced.

I like to imagine him with an ear-to-ear idiot smile piloting his stolen chopper into a prison to bust out his boys. He probably couldn’t stop thinking about how he was like a more handsome Hannibal for his crooked A*Team.

Freedom didn’t last long. Payet and his boys were captured three weeks later. I’m guessing they were too hyped and got caught hammering 40's at some classy-as-hell discotheque.

Payet became one of the most closely surveilled prisoners in France. He was transferred between prisons every 6 months. He was always confined to solitary. He was even deemed “détenu particulièrement surveillé,” which is French for “crazy escaping badass…always watch him.”

Fast forward 8 years to 2007. It was Bastille Day — some holiday French kids go nuts for. Payet had been transferred between over 30 prisons and was still under constant surveillance. He was for sure super sick of prison food.

Miles away from his tiny solitary cell, four masked men armed to the teeth hijacked a helicopter from an airport. Twenty minutes later, they descended on Payet’s prison, landed the chopper on top, and entered the prison on a tight schedule with tactical precision.

About 10 minutes later, all four men emerged with Payet who boarded the chopper unscathed. No shots were fired. No guards were harmed.

What happened in those 10 minutes? How did four men navigate a sizable, high-security prison and extricate arguably the highest profile criminal in France from a cell under constant surveillance? We will likely never know the full story, but you know it was some rad as fuck Ocean’s 11, Splinter Cell shit.

Unfortunately for Payet, he’s absolutely incapable of laying low. His drive to party is too great. Later the very same year, he was captured in Spain and returned to France. He has been once again imprisoned, but his location has been kept secret for security reasons. The French are confident his escape is impossible this time.

I’m not sold. I’m convinced Payet will craft another incredible escape. This time he’s going to moonwalk into his stolen Apache, flipping the double bird and rocking out to “All I Do Is Win” on his Beats by Dre…showing everyone Who’s the Boss.

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