Huge fireball as Spanish Air Force F-18 fighter jet crashes at Zaragoza military airbase

Image of Spanish Air Force F-18 Hornet.

Image of Spanish Air Force F-18 Hornet. Credit: Bernardo Fernandez copado/Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

A Spanish Air Force F-18 fighter jet aircraft crashed at the Zaragoza airbase this morning, Saturday, May 20. Thankfully, the pilot managed to eject before the plane hit the ground.

As reported by the Air Force, the jet was participating in an aerial exhibition when the incident occurred just after midday. The plane came down on one of the runways at the airbase in the Aragonese capital.

The pilot was immediately rushed to the Miguel Servet Hospital in the city of Zaragoza. He was said to have suffered trauma and injuries to his legs, hips and arms on impact.

According to the Heraldo de Aragón news outlet, the pilot was a veteran captain from the 15th Wing with more than 1,000 flight hours experience.

At the time of the crash, he was conducting aerial manoeuvres in preparation for an exhibition that will be staged during an event at the facility in Garrapinillos on June 10.

Guardia Civil sources said that the pilot suffered ‘a problem’ and the aircraft crashed with the pilot managing to eject safely from the cockpit in time.

The F-18 Hornet was completely destroyed after exploding on impact with the ground. Emergency fire crews from the base were quickly at the scene to extinguish the flames.

In a Twitter post, the Spanish Air and Space Army confirmed that the accident occurred: “at the Zaragoza Air Base involving an F18 from Wing 15”.

It explained that the pilot: “ejected successfully and the plane has fallen within the perimeter of the base”. They added: “The injured pilot is already in the hospital and his life is not in danger.”

Video footage posted on the Intel Republic Telegram channel showed the pilotless F-18 plunging from the sky and crashing in a spectacular fireball.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at