• Events A helicopter crashes in the middle of the M-40 in Madrid

With more than 30,000 flight hours behind him and his great friend Bernard by his side, the "expertise" of veteran pilot Jean-Marie Bensa prevented "a much greater tragedy", according to the mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida. It was a spectacular film-like crash landing on the median of the M-40. A manoeuvre – around a bridge underneath, landing on the median and avoiding falling onto the crowded road – starring a man with a biography worthy of a Top Gun sequel.

A version that Rotor Aircraft-Enstorm, the company that owns the helicopter with registration F-HPUX that was on display at the European Rotors fair, which was held at Ifema until last Thursday, November 30, agrees. "He has saved lives, there are no deaths and he is out of danger at the Hospital de la Paz," sources from the French company explain to GRAN MADRID.

"The idea they had was to fly from Madrid to Zaragoza and, depending on the weather, on Saturday to go from Zaragoza to Toulouse," sources from the company Occitanie Hélicoptère, in the French town, where Jean-Marie provides his services as a flight instructor, tell this newspaper. Both sources, in addition to his wife, with whom this newspaper spoke yesterday, are cautious when it comes to making statements as there is an ongoing investigation, but they agree in describing the Frenchman as "an exceptional driver".

"Jean-Marie spent a lot of time in the army and was in the Special Forces. A large part of their missions and assignments are confidential," they explain.

Scant public records on his military record show that the 68-year-old veteran pilot was stationed in Djibouti commanding a French Army air squadron between 1983 and 1984. A military tradition that, according to the same sources, has been maintained by his son, "a fighter pilot Rafale in the French Army and decorated as a Knight of the Legion of Honor", the best known and most important of the Gallic distinctions, created by Napoleon in 1804.

Jean-Marie also has extensive experience as an instructor and commercial pilot in companies such as Star Airlines. In addition, he had flown for the NGO Convoyeurs sans Frontières carrying 600 kilos of medicines, books and supplies to developing countries such as Senegal.

During the crash landing, Jean-Marie suffered a traumatic brain injury for which he was taken to the emergency room of the hospital in La Paz, where he spent yesterday in a box. "The doctors say he needs to rest," sources close to the Frenchman explain.

Meanwhile, his companion, Bernard, is out of danger and hospitalized with a broken leg. "Bernard is a helicopter pilot for private flights, but he was travelling as a passenger during the accident," says Occitanie Hélicoptère. "He is 66 years old and has been a very close friend of Jean-Marie for a long time," they add. "The idea," they continue, "is for the two of them to return to France together."

  • Events
  • Articles Daniel J. Ollero