NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Former rally champion Donald Milne killed in plane crash

Donald Milne Image copyright Quintin Milne
Image caption Donald Milne in his beloved aircraft

A former Scottish rally champion has died after his light aircraft was struck by a helicopter in Spain.

Donald Milne, 65, who mentored late rally world champion Colin McRae, was critically injured in the accident near Alicante on 30 December.

The father-of-two was originally from Aberdeen but had lived in Spain and Dubai for more than 20 years.

An investigation into the crash, which involved a fire service helicopter, concluded it was a tragic accident.

The ex-businessman's eldest son, Quintin, told BBC Scotland he had recently told his father that he should be taking things more easily at his age after he started getting into acrobatics.

Mr Milne responded: "I'd rather go in my beloved aeroplane than having you spoon-feed me later on."

Image copyright Fiona Milne
Image caption Fiona and Donald Milne

Paying tribute to his father, Quintin said: "He was a larger than life character who lived life to the full.

"My dad was loved by so many people and he helped so many people.

"He will be sorely missed by his family and the response we have had over the last few days has only confirmed what a wonderful man he was."

Mr Milne started his career in the oil industry in Aberdeen in the 1970s and set up his own drilling services company, Apex Tubulars.

He travelled the world with his work and later as a consultant after he sold his business in the late 1990s.

Career highlight

Mr Milne's main passion was rally driving and in 1988 he helped a young Colin McRae win his first Scottish Championship by lending him cars.

McRae, who died in a helicopter crash in 2007, went on to win two British titles and the 1995 world title.

The highlight of Mr Milne's career came in 1991 when he won the Scottish Championship.

The championship's official Facebook page posted: "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."

Image copyright Scottish Rally Championship
Image caption Donald Milne and co-driver Bob Wilson after their 1991 Scottish Rally Championship win

After fulfilling his rally dream, Mr Milne reverted to his other great passion.

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

Mr Milne was critically injured at about 16:00 on 30 December when his Bucker Biplane light aircraft was struck by a fire service helicopter at the private Mutxamel airfield, near Alicante.

'Avoidable tragedy'

His son Quintin 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."

Mr Milne later died from his injuries in Alicante General Hospital.

A private cremation was held in Spain on Tuesday.

The family plan to hold a celebration of his life in Aberdeen at a later date.

Mr Milne is survived by wife Fiona, 61, and sons Quintin, 37, and Freddie, 28.

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