A FORMER Scottish rally champion has died in an air crash in Spain.

Scot Donald Milne, 65, died after his biplane was involved in a collision with an emergency helicopter at the Mutxamel aerodrome near Alicante on Saturday afternoon.

The local government helicopter had been 30 feet above the ground and coming to land after being involved in the fighting of a forest fire in the north east Spanish town of Culla.

According to the Provincial Fire Brigade of Alicante, the "tail rotor of the helicopter was hit by the plane" and the helicopter pilot's expertise made it possible to land, without the crew suffering any serious injury.



Mr Milne, who was originally from Banchory and had been living in Spain for the last 20 years, received cardiopulmonary resuscitation until he regained consciousness, before his transfer by ambulance to the Hospital General Universitario in Alicante where he died in the hours after the accident.

The helicopter was one of eight that had been used to stablilise the Culla fire that destroyed one-and-a-half square miles of trees.

The state aviation safety agency will open an investigation to find out what caused the crash.

Mr Milne founded Apex Tubulars, a North Sea oil drilling company in Aberdeen, in 1984 before it changed hands in 2000 when it was bought out by its management team led by managing director Jim Geddie.

Mr Milne is said to have used rallying as a means to escape the pressures of business.


He won the Esso Scottish Rally Championship in 1991, and was known for having helped Colin McRae in his early years leading up to his world championship in 1995.

Flying was said to be a passion after his rallying career was over, and Mr Milne, used helicopters for business as well as fun, but was said to have preferred fixed-wing aircraft for leisure. He had recently purchased two craft at his Spanish base.

He had been flying since the age of 28 and was a fully-qualified commercial pilot with thousands of hours of experience.


Donald Milne. Source: Facebook

On being told that he should be taking things more easily at his age, his response was said to have been: "I'd rather go in my beloved aeroplane than having you spoon-feed me later on."

Mr Milne, who would have been 66 this month, leaves a wife, Fiona, 61 and two sons, Quintin, 37 and Freddie, 28 who have all posted pictures of Mr Milne on Facebook by way of tribute.

A private cremation services was conducted in Spain on Tuesday and the family plan to hold a celebration of his life in Aberdeen at a later date.


Quintin Milne said: "My dad was on final approach to land and was approximately 100ft from the runway.

"He had right of way and was committed to land.

"The helicopter took off underneath him and made contact with his aircraft.

"The communication tower was unmanned as it is a quiet airfield and it was just before New Year.

"It was a tragic turn of events that could have been avoided."


Quintin Milne, who posted a picture of his father at the wheel of one rally car said: "Rallying was a very fond part of his life that obviously rubbed off on Fred and I."

Mr Milne was said to have been instrumental in Quintin Milne's active involvement in competitive rallying, when he provided rally cars and sponsorship to enable him to contest more events and broaden his experience.

The Scottish Rally Championship paid its tribute on social media saying: "We are extremely saddened to hear of the sudden passing of 1991 Scottish Rally Champion, Donald Milne. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to Quintin, Freddie and family."


Motoring and motor rallying journalist John Fife, said: "I'm sure we'd all like to express our sincere condolences to his wife Fiona, the boys Quintin and Freddie, and their relatives and wide circle of friends. He'll be sorely missed."