A fire-fighting Air Tractor plane from the company contracted to the environment ministry's Ibanat agency went missing on Tuesday evening. At eight minutes past six, contact with the pilot was lost. The plane had been on a reconnaissance flight. It was scheduled to have left the Son Bonet aerodrome in Palma at half five and to have been in the air for an hour. The Air Tractor 802 in fact took off at 5.23pm. There was contact with the pilot at 6pm when the plane was in the Valldemossa area. It was then heading for Cala San Vicente, when the contact was lost.
Four helicopters and a plane from Ibanat, the Guardia Civil and the air force were involved in the initial search on Tuesday. This continued during the night thanks to the arrival of an army helicopter and plane from the mainland that have night sight visors. The fuller search was resumed on Wednesday morning, although the search was hampered because of sea conditions. The search was widened from Puerto Pollensa down to Sa Calobra.
At a press conference, representatives from the environment ministry, including the minister Vicenç Vidal, explained that flying conditions had been optimal at the time. They added that the plane's beacon was not activated.
The pilot, named as 46-year-old Antonio A.M., originally from Huelva in Andalusia, has 1,300 flying-hours experience and has taken part in five fire-protection campaigns in the Balearics.
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