Search operation ongoing for pilot of gyrocopter which plunged into Iznájar reservoir

Helicopters and divers search for missing Pablo Benthem (inset).
Helicopters and divers search for missing Pablo Benthem (inset). / Efe
  • Pablo Benthem was flying alone in the aircraft which is believed to have exploded after hitting high-voltage power lines

The search for a 55-year-old gyrocopter pilot continues after the aircraft he was flying crashed into the reservoir at Iznájar.

Pablo Benthem, who is from Madrid but lives in Moclinejo, set off from Antequera airfield at 10am on Tuesday morning but police received a number of calls at around 11.20am that what was reported as a helicopter had plunged into the reservoir.

The principal line of enquiry at present is that Benthem, who is also a diving, paragliding and paramotor instuctor, was unable to avoid some high-voltage power lines and the resulting collision caused an explosion which resulted in the crash.

Drones and divers

The Guardia Civil have taken control of the operation and have been assessing the scene from the skies using both helicopters and drones, as well as bringing in specialist divers to survey the floor of the reservoir which is in some parts 60 metres deeps.

Antonio Quijano, in charge of the operation, said that the aircraft involved was a “two-seater gyrocopter”, but that there was just one occupant at the time of the crash.

The gyrocopter has been located 45 metres below the surface of the Iznájar reservoir and Quijano says that rescuers are looking at ways to bring it back up to the surface as soon as possible but the search for Benthem continues.

An experience pilot

Pablo Benthem, is an experienced gyrocopter pilot and was involved in the first flight in history between Europe and Africa, over some 12,800 kilometres, in 2014, accompanied by friend and fellow instructor Francisco Giménez and Ignacio Yuste.