A C-101 Aviojet training plane belonging to the Spanish Air Force crashed into the Mediterranean Sea near La Manga, southern Spain. The pilot, a former member of the Spanish aerobatic team Patrulla Águila, died in the accident.
Footage taken by observing tourists seems to indicate that the aircraft was trying to recover from a dive after an inside loop when it hit the surface of the water.
The Spanish Defense Ministry initially communicated that the pilot, described as an instructor, was able to eject. A helicopter and several rescue boats were scrambled to recover him.
However, the ministry later announced that the pilot was deceased. He was identified as Francisco Marín Núñez, who had been a “solo” of the Spanish aerobatic team Patrulla Águila (Eagle Patrol) until the last season, and was currently an instructor at the Academia General del Aire, the officers’ school of the Spanish Air Force. In total, he had accumulated 3,300 flight hours.
Minister of Defense Margarita Robles said that “the body has not yet been recovered” and thus the search efforts continue. An investigation to find out the reasons that led to the accident was launched by the Spanish Air Force.
The C-101 Aviojet is a low-wing single-engine advanced trainer conceived by the Spanish manufacturer Construcciones Aeronáuticas Sociedad Anónima. It entered service in 1980 in Spain and is operated by four air forces around the world. In June 2019, the Spanish government announced that €225 million would be allocated to find a replacement. No aircraft has yet been officially chosen. According to the local press, the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II and the Pilatus PC-21 are being considered.
On July 25, 2019, an Alpha Jet belonging to the Patrouille de France, the French aerobatic team, skidded off the runway during takeoff at Perpignan-Rivesaltes airport (PGF) and smashed into a concrete fence bordering a public road. The pilot had ejected before the impact but was injured.