2 Pilots dead in separate wildfire aviation accidents in Spain

The International Association of Wildland Fire is reporting the deaths of two pilots in separate wildfire aviation accidents in Spain. One was a single engine air tanker that crashed on October 2, and the other was a mid-air collision of two helicopters on September 30. There was one fatality in each incident.

It has been a very bad year in Spain for wildfire aviation fatalities. Six firefighters died March 16 in the crash of a helicopter, and three died on September 19 in another helicopter accident.

Here is the information reported by the IAWF about the two most recent fatalities:

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INCIDENT #1

  • Name: Iñigo Zubiaga Padadogorriaga
  • Rank: Pilot
  • Age: 54
  • Gender: Male
  • Status: Contractor to the Airborne Firefighting Service of the Galician Regional Government (INFOCAM) (INFOGA)
  • Years of Service: Very experienced pilot and had flown the last four fire seasons in Galicia (Galice) Spain. He was a master of the Aeroclub of Biscay, and wrote a very popular manual for obtaining a private pilot’s license.
  • Date of Incident: 2 October 2011
  • Time of Incident: approximately 1715 hours local time
  • Date of Death: 2 October 2011
  • Company: Martínez Ridao Company
  • Fire Department: Airborne Firefighting Service of the Galician Regional Government (INFOCAM)
  • Incident Description: Pilot Zubiaga, was helping to extinguish a large fire in the Serra da Meda, Galicia near the town of Arcucelos (Laza). The plane he was piloting, an Air Tractor AT802, crashed for reasons still unknown but the pilot had time to radio his base that something was wrong with the aircraft. Nearby observers saw the “aircraft was on a strange maneuver before plunging to the ground.” Firefighters from Verín started an immediate search and when they found the aircraft the Zubiaga was not inside. He died of unknown causes and was found about 150 meters from the crashed aircraft in an area of rough terrain. His body was discovered about 1900 hours local time and was taken to the Hospital Complex of Ourense. An autopsy was to be performed to determine cause of death. The Regional Ministry of Rural Affairs announced an inquiry would take place concerning the incident.
  • Incident Location: Autonomous Community of Galicia, Ourense-Xunta de Galicia province, in Serrra da Meda, between Laza and Verín to 42.008999,-7.482033. Galicia (Galice) is in northwest Spain and is bordered by Portugal to the south, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Bay of Biscay to the north.
INCIDENT #2
  • Name: Leo Jenssen (from Denmark)
  • Rank: Pilot
  • Age: unknown
  • Gender: Male
  • Status: Contractor to the Airborne Firefighting Service of Castilla La Mancha Regional Government (Incendios Forestales Castilla La Mancha, INFOCAM)
  • Years of Service: More than 10700 flight hours and eight fire seasons in Spain
  • Date of Incident: 30 September 2011
  • Time of Incident: 1340 hours local time
  • Date of Death: 30 September 2011
  • Company: Grupo INAER
  • Company Address: Oficinas Centrales (INAER Helicópteros), Aeródromo de Mutxamel, Partida La Almaina, 92, 03110 Mutxamel, Alicante, SPAIN
  • Fire Department: Airborne Firefighting Service of the Castilla La Mancha Regional Government (Incendios Forestales Castilla La Mancha, INFOCAM)
  • Helicopter Contractor: Grupo INAER
  • Incident Description: Two helicopter Bell B212’s touched and crashed during aerial maneuvering to refill with water at the Bienservida reservoir. Pilot Jennsen (flying helicopter MSN 30775, CC-CIS) was the only one of the two pilots who died during the incident. The other pilot, Manuel Fuertes, with 13 years’ experience, (flying helicopter EC-GIC), survived with minor injuries and burns but walked away from the crash and was taken to the hospital in Ciudad Real. Pilot Jennsen was unconscious and with a pulse when extracted from the water and CPR was administered. Pilot Jennsen was pronounced dead at the hospital and reportedly died from drowning. He was working for INAER, for the Castilla La Mancha fire agency. The fire reported at 1245 hours local time was extinguished at only 6 ha. The Accident Investigation Commission and Civil Aviation Incidents (CIAIAC) of the Ministry of Development is responsible for the investigation. The helicopter had last undergone and passed a review on 22 September. At this time the cause of the accident is unknown.
  • Incident Location: Area known as Los Castellares in the Alcaraz Sierra, Autonomous Community of Castilla-La Mancha, Albacete province, at the Bienservida reservoir, 38.519429,-2.61137. Spain.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

5 thoughts on “2 Pilots dead in separate wildfire aviation accidents in Spain”

  1. Bill – thanks to you and IAWF for keeping us all informed about the firefighter deaths that occur outside of the US: it really is a small world, and we can all learn from each others mis-fortunes.

    1. You’re welcome, Rileymon. There’s at least one more fatality on a wildfire in Spain that the IAWF is researching. They have had so many LODD’s this year they have put together an investigation team to help figure out what is going on.

  2. I just want to point out a small mistake in the text. In the line “Status” of the incident # 1 should be written “INFOGA” instead of “INFOCAM”.
    INFOGA Plan means “plan de INcendios FOrestais de GAlicia”, that is, Wildland Fire Plan of Galicia.
    Greetings from Galicia.

      1. I have found another mistake in the article: In the line “Incident Description:” of the incident # 1 should be written “The plane he was piloting, an PZL-Mielec M-18B Dromader, …” instead of “The plane he was piloting, an Air Tractor AT802, …”.

        The following video shows the aircraft that flew just the pilot died in the accident (Iñigo Zubiaga). Perhaps just the same plane:
        http://youtu.be/ugBloKw6DWs

        In this another video you can see the remains of the stricken aircraft:
        http://youtu.be/ueJGadvR6uY

        Best Regards.

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