Exhibition pilot dies after crashing jet into Madrid hangar

Vintage trainer aircraft plunged to the ground during an airshow at capital’s Cuatro Vientos aerodrome

Spectators survey the aftermath of the crash that claimed the life of the defense minister’s personal aide on Sunday.
Spectators survey the aftermath of the crash that claimed the life of the defense minister’s personal aide on Sunday. Luis Monje Arenas (EL PAÍS)

A 35-year-old pilot died in Madrid on Sunday in a crash at an aircraft exhibition at the city’s Cuatro Vientos aerodrome. Ladislao Tejedor was married with one child and worked as the personal assistant to Defense Minister Pedro Morenés.

Tejedor was flying a Saeta HA-200, an advanced jet trainer that was taken out of active service in 1981 when he lost control of the aircraft, which crashed into the hangar used to house the National Police Corps’ helicopters. Several bystanders on the ground also had to be attended to, including the pilot’s father who suffered an anxiety attack.

The crash occurred during a monthly exhibition organized by the Infante de Orleans Foundation. Tejedor had just performed a fly past and an acrobatic maneuver, according to witnesses. “He was flying very low compared to other shows I have been to. Suddenly we lost sight of him and saw a massive ball of flame and smoke,” said Juan Antonio Alcobendas. “Before the exhibition he was talking to the spectators and we watched him check the gas and oil.”

“I’m alive but trapped,” the pilot said when emergency services arrived at the scene. It took rescuers some 15 minutes to free Tejedor from the wreckage. He was taken to the burns unit at Getafe hospital but died at around 4pm.

Three policemen and a woman were hospitalized with burns after trying to douse the flames, while another policeman was treated for hypertension and admitted to the Clínico hospital in the capital. A further six people were treated at the scene. Aerodrome staff said the accident could have had much more serious consequences had the plane crashed into the adjoining hangar, which holds the fuel supply.

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