Rescue sources say that they have now recovered the body of the pilot who crashed his fighter jet into the Mar Menor this morning close to La Manga headland.
Although he managed to eject from the aircraft he was unable to save his life.
The aircraft, which crashed at 0938 this (Monday morning) is said to be a flight instructor at the Spanish Air Force Base in nearby San Javier.
It plunged into the sea just 4km off the La Manga headland, with sources from the San Javier City Council and the local Air Force Academy identifying the aircraft at a C101 reactor of the type used by the Spanish Airforce display team the Eagle Patrol, la Patrulla Águila.
The emergency centre say that they received hundreds of calls from witnesses who saw the accident. The rescue service was immediately deployed and after several hours searching the area they found the lifeless body of the pilot who was later named as Commander Francisco Marín Núñez.
Witnesses say that the plane was manoeuvring, and that it tried to climb too late and crashed into the sea. There was no explosion.
However, from a video posted on youtube it seems as though the pilot was attempting to pull out of a loop as he crashed into the sea.
Begoña Wandosell , a witness who lives with her husband in an apartment in La Manga del Mar Menor located just in front of the crash site told the local press that it fell “suddenly, and without making noise,” adding that “ We believe the engine has shut down.”
She said that she was at that time inside her home. Her husband was on the terrace, admiring the aerobatics immediately before the crash. “It was looping and flying at a low altitude,” he explained. “It looked as though the pilot couldn’t recover from the loop.”
The “CASA C-101 aircraft” is the plane with which the students at the San Javier Academy receive their basic training and with which the “Eagle Patrol” performs its exhibitions.
It is an aircraft that is at the end of its life (2021) after almost 40 years of service. Therefore, the Ministry of Defence has launched the “Airplane Trainer” Program , with the aim of acquiring 24 new turboprop airplanes that are part of an Integrated Teaching System (ITS) that also includes simulators. The first six units were to be ready in March 2020, but have been delayed until the end of the year.