Air Force Captain Borja Aybar was returning to Albacete’s Los Llanos airbase in his Starfighter, after participating in the 12-O military parade in Madrid in front of the King and Queen of Spain, when it appeared to plummet to the ground as it prepared for landing.
According to reports, the fighter jet crashed close to a large public park ‘while his wife and their baby watched on.’
There are no immediate reports of any civilian casualties on the ground and as air investigators try to piece the evidence together the exact cause of the crash is still unknown.
Smoke could be seen billowing up from the crash site and access to the airbase has been cut off.
Relatives of the pilot believe that he did not eject from the aircraft while he attempted to divert the Starfighter away from public areas as, at the time, it was heading towards a built-up area with a large civilian population.
Aybar was born in Puertollano (Ciudad Real) but he had lived, and was educated, in Santa Pola from the age of 12 when his parents moved to the fishing port for reasons of work. He lived there until he entered the San Javier Air Academy in 2005.
Married, with a 4-year old baby, Aybar was an experienced pilot, having accumulated a total of 1,238 flying hours, of which 1,189 were in fighter jets such as the F-18 and 681 hours in Eurofighter.
The jet was one of four Eurofighters that was on its way back from participating in a military parade in Madrid to mark Thursday’s Hispanic Day, an annual national Bank Holiday commemorating the day in 1492 when Christopher Columbus set foot in the Americas.
The news of his death spread quickly to the town of Santa Pola where he had attended the Virgen de Loreto school.
The mayor, Yolanda Sev, said that, although the family was not originally from the town, they had quickly established themselves in the area and were well known and well respected amongst their neighbours.
She publicly conveyed the condolences of Santa Pola and the townsfolk to his family adding that the council will be organising a formal tribute to the deceased in due course.