The C-101 — the same aircraft used by Spain's air force Eagle Patrol aerobatics team — was on a “training flight” when it crashed near the resort of La Manga at 9.36am on Monday, a statement said.
At first reports suggested that the flight instructor on board the plane may have been “able to eject before the plane crashed in the sea” and rescue services were dispatched to search for him, the defence ministry said.
But emergency services in Murcia later confirmed that they had found the lifeless body of the pilot among the wreckage.
He was named as Francisco Marín Núñez.
Arriesgan su vida por España y son el orgullo de toda una nación. Hoy lamentamos la pérdida del comandante de la @patrullaguila Francisco Marín Núñez. Mi más sincero pésame a su familia y compañeros del @EjercitoAire D.E.P pic.twitter.com/RnnQ41DMix
— Noelia Arroyo (@NoeliaArroyoHer) August 26, 2019
A video filmed by a witness and posted on Twitter shows a small aircraft falling at a near vertical before trying to straighten up and hurtling into the water.
?Confirmado el fallecimiento del piloto de avión del Ejército del Aire
⚫️Aún llegan restos del avión a la costa de La Manga del Mar Menor pic.twitter.com/8TrOJv9yS1
— Alejandro Melgares (@elentrometido) August 26, 2019
The plane came down near an air base outside the town of San Javier just off Galúa beach.