9 Apr, 2012 @ 14:14
1 min read

Midnight mystery of Costa del Sol fighter jet

By James Bryce

MYSTERY continues to surround the actions of a military fighter jet that left expats along the Costa del Sol fearing it was going to crash.

The unidentified aircraft was seen flying ‘erratically’ at low level between Marbella and Sotogrande for about an hour, from 5am on Easter Sunday.

Expat forums have since filled with conspiracy theories as to the pilot’s motives, while local radio stations and the Olive Press newsroom have been inundated with calls.

“It was frightening, I thought it was going to crash into my house,” iTalk FM presenter Maurice Boland told the Olive Press.

“The noise was incredible, it was like standing on the runway behind a jet engine.

“My grandchildren were crying, the dogs were going mad and I could see lights going on in houses all over the place.”

Ellie Grimes, 50, who owns a holiday home close to Selwo Adventure Park, also feared the plane was about to crash after being woken by the noise.

“It was circling round and seemed like it was trying to dump fuel,” she said.

“My husband is interested in aviation and he seemed to think it was in trouble.

“We were watching it from our balcony and at one point it flew about 500-600 feet above the house.

“It was really strange and erratic and the low level stuff was quite scary.”

A helicopter was also reported to have been in the area around the same time, although its motives are similarly shrouded in mystery.

Among the conspiracy theories being touted on message boards such as expatforum.com, include a military training exercise, interception of a drug plane and an investigation of possible UFO sightings.

Other theories included the possibility that it was one of four Spanish F-18s previously involved in the Libya conflict, from the nearby US air base at Moron de la Frontera.

When contacted by the Olive Press, a spokesman for Malaga Airport’s operations centre said: “We can’t give any information about those type of flights.”

When pushed as to the reason why, the spokesman declined to comment.

A spokesman for Gibraltar Airport said they were not aware of the incident as Gibraltar air space – which is only open from 8am to 9pm – was closed at the time.


James Bryce

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  1. We never thought the plane was going to crash, we watched for about an hour as it was searching for or chasing something backwards and forwards. we also beleive that there was two or more planes. The shape of the plane was quite different to the one in the picture. the wings were at more of an angle towards the tail of the plane similar to that of the euro fighter. We doubt it was a training exercise as this is something that is not usually done over civilisation at such a low altitude. The plane had red and blue flashing lights and the Helicopter could be heard but not seen ( no lights ). I also saw the same flashing lights on what one can only guess being a similar craft in the distance beyond estepona. Very strange and a little spine chilling at the thoughts of what might have happened or what was going on. Shortly after the plane had moved on we could here another helicopter and from the sound of its rota blades it was smaller than the first. Very strange though

  2. I was in our villa in Cancelada and I watched for about an hour from about 4.30am from our roof terrace and it certainly was terrifying. It looked like just one plane,and certainly he was flying at low altitude, circling above us and up to the mountains behind us for a lot of the time. I took a video of it with my mobile, unfortunately all that can be seen is a red flashing light but the noise on the video is incredible.

  3. It was really very strange. The noise was incredable. it is really rediculous to fly at such a low altitude above houses. The plane once had a very big flame behind his engine and made very much noise. If it had problems then flihing above the see was a better option. It was clear that the plane was searching for something.It was not normal and it is rediculous that nobody (the airport) would like to answer these questions!

  4. As an experienced fighter pilot, only reason I could give for this “experienced & licensed” pilot for breaking air space levels, height levels and sound levels above residential spaces at that hour of the morning for NOT going to jail is:
    he MUST be an …Olympic Handball Player!

  5. 1.The photo is not an F-18 it is a F-16
    2.night excercise by any military flying operations are authorised over built up areas, day or night.
    3.Low level aerobatics are banned at night
    4. The eye witness who claimed to see ‘blue lights’ on the airceaft was mistaken.
    5.The eye witness who said they saw a ‘big flame’ out the back of the aircraft could have been watching a typical air show trick were you select afterburn and then dump fuel, which ignites and this is spectacular!!
    6.I would just remind everyone that in the last 8 years there has been 2 spanish pilots killed when they decided to show their low level flying skills to girlfriends and relations. I witnessed one of these acts a few miles out of Mojacar a few years ago
    7. If there were rotor craft involved I have no suggestions as to their role.
    8. One comment of a witness was quite interesting; that was that the aircraft looked like the ‘new’ Eurofighter, which are assembled just down the road from Marbella. The Spanish have already crashed one of these killing a Saudi pilot at a cost of 160 million Euros.
    9 the jury is out and I rely on the Oliver Press to get to the bottem of this

  6. I am a Private Pilot. Ex UK military services. This kind of incident can only be conceived as:
    Military assistance to civilian authorities for Illegal criminal activity such as shadowing drugs, terrorists or other criminals. Helicopter could have been Police National back up
    It is like using a sledge hammer to crack a nut. No pilot in his right mind would fly low and at night in mountainous area for fun or to show off. Radar coverage in the area from Gibraltar (RAF / GCHQ) to Malaga airport is extensive. Not to mention the Spanish secret service that have constant monitoring stations above in the mountains behind Costa del sol. This area is also now used by drug gangs using small drone like aircraft to deliver contraband. It very plausible not UFOs technology is available to these gangs who are willing to pay

  7. We watched the plane from our terrace and had an amazing view, my husband saw the plane thru his binoculares as it flew up infront of the moon, clearly a milatry jet, we watched fly from east to wesr south and North, it flew right over us. I dont think it was on an exercise at that time ot that level – we heard the helicopter also – Olive press good luck with finding out the truth.

  8. We are in the Manilva area, and myself, family and friends heard what sounded like distant electric thunder at round about that time early Sunday morning. Did not look out of the window and see what caused it. It was quite eerie. My brother did look and saw like a fighterplane.

  9. I am sure there was more than one jet, plus later on,there was a propeller plane.

    At one time, near the end, there were two explosions,out to sea.

    The noise from the planes was very loud, so I don’t know how anyone in Estepona slept through it.

    It felt like we were under attack!

    I watched from my terrace and had a great view.

  10. unfortunately i do not have a film of this fighter. i watched for almost one hour this fighter from my balcony in Cancelada. I”m 100 % sure it was an Eurofighter and not an F16 or F 18.
    I thout that the spanisch goverment would like to save 2,8 miljard Euro’s ?
    Its really a farce that nobody would like to say what was gooing on above the houses of the people who pays for al these costs. (taxes) The people has the right to know what happened above cancelada and estepona ! Really rediculous !

  11. No one mentions ringing the police ?
    If ‘ military flying operations are NOT authorised over built up areas, day or night’ then why do we get them here from spring onwards ,on a daily basis,with always 2 aircraft , sometimes 3 & always at least one going supersonic ?
    We had 3 of them at it for a prolonged period just 30 mins before the earthquake , last may!

  12. As an ex (I am still instructing off course) fighter pilot for the Imperial Forces I am 355% sure it was 3-4 F18 A7-18teens Harriers flying on a backburner in a final attack formation – a classic A377-5er – coming from a Charley Alpha heading and performing over Delta Beta sector N37588-9er and Red Rover

    Very mysteriously indeed

    Roger That

  13. I was LIVID when this happened – who the heck allowed a fighter plane to zoom around that low over a populated area!!!???. Now I am so happy to see this article. and to hear more about it….I live between Cancelada and Estepona and admit was absolutely terrrifying to be woken up at such an hour by this incident. .I must have been right under his lowest flying — was extremely noisy and went on for so long. that I was sure something very bad was wrong., I hope we get an explanation AND an apology soon!

  14. I witnessed this same behavior with a jet and a helicopter over Marbella a few months ago but in the day time. The jet was slowing and speeding up and circling round to overtake the helicopter again. The jet flu in a forward directing at a 45 degree angle. Testing something? As to why it’s happened at 5 am is puzzling.

  15. Did anyone see the brilliant White star light object in the sky approx 2-00pm on wed. High up in a southernly direction,in the brilliant blue sky. I watched it for about 5 mins through my binoculars,then it was gone.It was not a plane and was not moving. Bill, Elvira.

  16. People pay good money to watch a show like that in the day time, so you got more than a bargain at night. One night with a bit of noise is hardly a big deal. Clearly quite a few people have not stayed in a Spanish hotel, far noisier.

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