THE Puerto Pollensa air force base is one of five being used as a summer base for this year's nationwide forest fire fighting operation.
A total of 14 airborne fire fighters from the 43rd Spanish air force squadron will be stationed at five key bases across Spain, including Pollensa, from June 15 to September 30. The fire fighting pilots and their air crews are braced for a “hard and tough” summer campaign because of the severe drought conditions slowly working their way across the country. According to the Environment Ministry, between January 1 and the end of March this year, there were 3.348 forest fires in Spain affecting less than a hectare and three major blazes damaging over 500 hectares. 130 air force personnel from the 43rd squadron will be involved in the summer operation including 45 pilots, 20 mechanics and 60 ground support crew.
Group captain Fernando Pastor, one of the pilots of the “Canadair” planes, the likes of which are based in Pollensa and can carry a maximum of 6'000 litres, said yesterday that he and his team are set for a complicated summer and are ready to respond to forest fires across the country. The squadron this summer includes a female pilot, captain Esther Iniesta, and a number of female mechanics and ground crew.