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  1. ITV Report

Land speed record holder dies in helicopter crash

The financial backer and driver of The British Steam Car Challenge team Charles Burnett III celebrates Photo: PA

British-born investor and world record holder Charles Burnett III is among five people killed in a helicopter crash in New Mexico.

The group of friends, including a Zimbabwean opposition leader, were travelling to a ranch in the US state when their helicopter crashed in a remote area.

Mr Burnett, was 61, and was based in Houston, but rented Newton Park House near Lymington which he occasionally visited.

He and his Hampshire-based team set a world record when he drove a steam-powered car 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 Mr Burnett's team with him at the wheel.

Charles Burnett III with his vehicle at Rogers Dry Lake on Edwards Air Force Base, Mojave Desert, California, USA ahead of his land speed record attempt Credit: PA

"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."

– New Mexico Police Department

He was in a long-term relationship with Andra Cobb, the only survivor of the crash and daughter of Paul Cobb, who was the co-pilot of the helicopter, AP reported.

New Mexico State Police said opposition leader Roy Bennett, Mr Bennett's wife, Heather; and pilot Jamie Coleman Dodd were also killed in the crash.

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

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.

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