Spanish Hornet Crashes During Take Off From Torrejon Air Base Killing Pilot

The Spanish Air Force has just suffered another deadly accident: an EF-18 Hornet from Ala 12. It’s The 12th Major Incident Involving A Hornet In The Last 17 Months.

Just five days after losing a Eurofighter Typhoon at Albacete, the Ejército del Aire (Spanish Air Force) has suffered another accident this morning, when an EF-18 Hornet belonging to the Ala 12 crashed during take off from its homebase at Torrejon Air Base, near Madrid.

According to the Spanish MoD, the pilot was killed in the crash.

Images emerging on social media show a column of smoke pouring from the crash site:

No further detail about the accident and its route causes has been released at the time of writing.

However, it’s worth of note that not only does the one at Torrejon is the second deadly accident in 5 days involving a Spanish combat aircraft but it is also the 12th incident involving an F/A-18 of any variant since May 2016.

Dealing with the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fleet, four aircraft were lost (fortunately resulting in 0 fatalities): two VFA-211 F/A-18F jets from NAS Oceana collided and crashed 25 miles E of the Oregon Inlet, Nags Head, NC on May 26, 2016; then, on Apr. 21, 2017, a VFA-137 F/A-18E crashed during a landing attempt on USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in the Celebes sea, between Indonesia and the Philippines; whereas an F/A-18E of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 146 assigned to the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) departed the runway forcing the pilot to eject during an emergency landing at Bahrain International Airport on Aug. 12, 2017.

Legacy Hornets are crashing at an even more alarming rate: two U.S. Marine Corps F-18 Hornets from MCAS Miramar crashed on Nov. 9, 2016, near San Diego. Another F/A-18C crashed near USMC Air Ground Combat Cente, Twentynine Palms, on Oct. 25, 2016. A U.S. Navy F/A-18C belonging to the Strike Fighter Wing Pacific, Detachment Fallon, crashed on Aug. 2, 2016, 10NM to the south of NAS Fallon. On Jul. 27, 2016 a USMC F/A-18 belonging to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing crashed during a night strafing run on a weapons range near Twentynine Palms (killing the pilot). On Jun. 2 a Blue Angels Hornet crashed after taking off from Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport (KMQY), Smyrna, Tennessee: the only pilot on board was killed in the incident. For what concerns the international accidents (both causing the death of the pilots), a Swiss Air Force Hornet was lost on Aug. 29, 2016, a Canadian CF-188 was lost on Nov. 28, 2016, and the Spanish Hornet on Oct. 17.

About David Cenciotti 4453 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.


  1. Deja vu and that photo is so good, so real, so close to the moment after impact that it brings back a searing memory.

    NAS Lemoore Is surrounded by the same kinds of farm fields. It’s in California’s Central Valley. I had just taken off, wheels coming into in the well, when I look off to my left and see the exact same scene. Black smoke billowing from a brown, recently-plowed field. Tower comes up requesting a flyover to give them bird’s eye on an F/A-18 that had just gone down.

    I get over there and in the middle of a farmer’s field I see a fully intact, undamaged Hornet tail-section just sitting on the ground and everything forward of it nothing but burnt black debris. A surreal sight. I also saw a chute, a seat (that was very close to the wreckage) and thankfully – the pilot walking around OK. Anyway, first crash I witnessed and that’s exactly what I saw, what’s in that photo, from a similar distance and at about 50 ft. AGL. So now you know what it looks like. The moments after a crash. Someone got a timely photo. I’m sorry that in this case the pilot didn’t survive.

  2. Very few of these incidents were mechanical, at least as the primary causal factor. The root cause points to operational issues, fewer training hours, human factors. Flying tactical jets is an inherently risky endeavor, but mx and training can be improved.

  3. God’s revenge for buying and flying the LOSER of the Lightweight Fighter competition. Our Navy is saddled with this flying compromise, so it was only a matter of time..

    • considering how many hours those airframes have had and the never ending extensions to keep them going i’m not surprised.

      The problem is the F-35 should have been built in enough numbers so they could have retired all of thoese Vipers and rhino’s

  4. Wow a week after the fall of a spanish EF2000.Series of unfortunate incidents for the Spanish Airforce.RIP to the pilot

  5. Oh Leroy, where are you, are to bash European and American fighters?

    Of course not, because you are a troll!

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