After more than four decades of service, the Ejército del Aire y del Espacio (Spanish Air and Space Force) has ceased training operations with the CASA C-101EB Aviojet at Murcia-San Javier Air Base (AB) in southeastern Spain.
The platform, operated by the Academia General del Aire (AGA, General Air Academy) – a component of Ala 79 (79th Wing) at Murcia-San Javier – completed its final flight dedicated to training the next generation of Spanish military aviators on July 29. This milestone flight signalled the end of an era for the Spanish Air and Space Force as it continues its transition to the newly acquired fleet of turboprop-driven Pilatus PC-21s, which will succeed the C-101EB in the training role from September.
At 1120hrs (local time) on July 29, three C-101EBs departed the base to carry out a training mission in correspondence with the advanced phase of the basic course for the 74th class of the AGA. This final mission lasted approximately one hour and 20 minutes, after which the three Aviojets returned to Murcia-San Javier. To mark the occasion, the aircraft were greeted with a traditional water cannon salute upon their return.
Officially designated the E.25 in Spanish service and affectionately nicknamed the ‘Mirlo’, the C-101 has accumulated more than 285,000 flight hours since the first four examples were delivered to the AGA on January 17, 1980. While the aircraft will be replaced in the training role by the PC-21 (which is designated the E.27 in Spanish service), a number of C-101EBs will remain operational with the Spanish Air and Space Force’s premier aerobatic team, Patrulla Águila (Eagle Patrol), for a few more years.
In a press release (issued on August 1), the Spanish Air and Space Force highlighted the important role the C-101EB (E.25) has played in training generations of pilots since 1980. “Thus ends a cycle in flight training within the AGA, during which the E.25, together with the professionalism of all the instructors and maintenance personnel who have ensured its fine-tuning, have provided our military aviation with a team of pilots whose preparation and level of excellence have earned them the prestige and recognition they hold worldwide. Mission accomplished!”