Charles Burnett III a founder member of the British Powerboat Racing Club was killed in a helicopter crash in New Mexico yesterday.
Burnett, 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 Burnett’s ranch.
The sole survivor was Andrea Cobb, Mr Burnett’s long-term partner and the daughter of the co-pilot who pulled herself from the burning wreck.
Burnett will be fondly remembered for his Offshore Powerboat Racing career, his yellow Los Locos boats coupled with his larger than life personality were a highlight on the 1990’s racing circuit.
While Burnett predominantly raced in the Offshore Class 2 category he also sponsored and supported competitors in Class 3B, giving female racers including Sarah Donohue the opportunity to race.
Sarah (above) told Powerboat Racing World this morning:
Charles was my oldest friend inside and outside powerboat racing.
He gave me the chance to have so many experiences across the world, gave me fond memories and a friendship many never get to experience.
All his family and close friends will be devastated by this news.
He was a great man that gave the world and everyone around him so much in everything he did.
Charles made my world a better place.
I loved him and will continue to love him.
He is a huge part of my autobiography and I will be dedicating it to him. The man that gave me and others so much life and love.
I wish I could spend just one more day with him.
I have so much I want to say to him. I’m heart broken for all of us that loved him.
Once he gave up racing on water competitively, Burnett silently continued to help the sport out financially.
In 2009 he broke a 103-year-old world land speed record for steam-powered vehicles in the United States, the 25ft-long British Steam Car – nicknamed the ‘Fastest Kettle in the World’, reached an average speed of 139.843mph over two runs of a measured mile at the Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Photos: Chris Davies