Jose Wejebe, host of the Outdoor Channel's popular Spanish Fly fishing show, died on Friday when his homebuilt Comp Air 8 crashed shortly after takeoff from Everglade Airpark (X01) and caught fire. The aircraft was destroyed and Wejebe, who was 54 years old, died at the scene. He was the sole occupant of the airplane and no one on the ground was injured. The weather at the time of the crash, which happened around 5 pm EDT on Friday, was good.
Comp Air, which is based in Merritt Island, Florida, was the manufacturer of the kit that Wejebe built. He discussed it on his web page, saying that the Comp Air 8, an eight-seat high-wing all-composite single powered by a turboprop engine (Wejebe's was equipped with a Walter 601 turbine), would open up opportunities for his show. "We will be able to use the plane for transportation needs and the mother ships for base platforms to explore these remote areas," he wrote on his web site. "The fact that you can just jump in an airplane and go directly to the Bahamas, or places in Florida or Mexico at a moments notice has really opened up some of the more spontaneous fishing and travel opportunities... plus... it sure is fun to fly" he wrote.
Spanish Fly, Wejebe's television show, highlighted the down-to-earth and fun side of fishing. It originally aired on ESPN before moving to the Outdoor Channel. Wejebe was an engaging host and traveled the world fishing in remote locations with a wide variety of companions, including United States Marines at Guantanamo Bay and with locals in Australia, the Amazon and the Dominican Republic.
The NTSB is investigating the crash.