Emergency services and investigators at the scene last night. / GUILLERMO CARRIÓN / AGM

Serving Air Force man and civilian flight instructor die in Murcia plane crash

The pair had just taken off from the Los Garranchos aerodrome, some 9 kilometres from San Javier, on the eve of Three Kings

ALEXIA SALAS MURCIA

Spanish Air Force Second Lieutenant Adolfo Baños and a civilian flight instructor, Hugo López, died on the eve of Three Kings when the private aircraft they were flying in crashed in Murcia on Thursday.

Their Tecnam Sierra aircraft had taken off just a few minutes before from the runway at Los Garranchos aerodrome, some 9 kilometres from San Javier, apparently with the intention of enjoying a pleasure flight on an afternoon free from work obligations.

Neither the Mar Menor flying club, to which both had belonged for years, nor sources close to the investigation knew what could have happened to the two experienced pilots. On a clear-sky afternoon, they climbed into the light aircraft as they had done so many times before. Minutes later, at around 5pm in the afternoon, the plane plunged from the sky and crashed into the ground.

The deceased, Hugo López (left) and Adolfo Baños (right).

The 47-year-old flying instructor Hugo López, who has taught many flight classes on the airfield, leaves behind a young son. Second Lieutenant Baños, 54, was currently stationed at the NATO air base in Geilenkirchen-Teveren (Germany), and had a daughter. Despite his European posting, Baños frequently returned to San Javier, where he had lived for many years and where, according to his friends, he wanted to return in the future.

Baños was an expert mechanic, a specialist in aircraft electrical systems, but above all in internal combustion propeller engines. With a high command of English and his experience in aircraft mechanics, Baños directed the electrical team at the German base, where he frequently flew with the crew of the giant AWACS, the E-3A aircraft equipped with early warning systems that are used to detect disturbances or threats in air corridors.