TRIBUTES have been paid to Brit pilot “Little Mike” after he was killed in a horror glider crash in Spain.
Mike Evans, 75, affectionately nicknamed “Little Mike” because of his height, came off the runway and smashed into trees as he landed at the Santa Cilia aerodrome in the Pyrenees mountain range.
Emergency responders received an alert around 4pm yesterday saying he was conscious and complaining of neck pain.
Local reports said he was alive for about 40 minutes after the accident but was pronounced dead at the scene after losing consciousness and going into cardiac arrest.
Aerodrome director Luis Ferreira, who knew Mike well through the Nimbus Aeroclub based there, confirmed today witnesses were with him while he passed away.
The club said in a touching Facebook tribute: “So long Mike. A pleasure having known you”.
Another devastated Spanish friend said by way of tribute: “Dear Mike. Twenty-five years ago you decided the Santa Cilia Aerodrome was the best place to exercise your passion for gliding and fly over the Pyrenees.
“From then on you dreamed about the date you’d planned for your arrival every year, until that fateful September 9 2023.
“Over the years you have gained the respect and the affection of everyone, not just of locals in the village but of the places you have frequented regularly.
“There are many of us friends who feel the deep pain your departure has caused us.
“This September 9 has been a fateful day and a terrible accident has resulted in your last breath staying here with us, and this time for ever.
“Happy flying dear friend. We will never forget you, small great man. So long.”
Several others posted ‘Rest in peace’ messages including the owner of a local restaurant Mike used to frequent.
Locals in the Jaca area said he was a member of the Lasham Gliding Society at Lasham Airfield in Alton, Hampshire, which has been described as one of the largest gliding clubs in the world.
There one of his nicknames was Little Mike because of his size and another is believed to have been ‘Evans Bach’.
One local who knew him from the Nimbus Aeroclub where he suffered his tragic accident, said: “He was less than five feet tall and was getting on and probably didn’t have the attributes he needed to carry on gliding.
“But he was so passionate about it he just didn’t want to give up.
“He came in fast and high and went off the runway. He hit the trees fairly hard.
“Although a post-mortem will have to determine his cause of death, I’m sure it’s going to decide it was linked to the force of the collision.”
Mr Evans is said to have been a regular at the Spanish aerodrome where he met his death since 1999.
An investigation into the accident is now underway.
Photos of the accident scene showed the damaged glider in undergrowth near the runway with its left wing against a fallen tree.
Police tape had been put up around the fixed-wing aircraft.
The dead man was travelling alone in the single seat glider.
An unnamed acquaintance quoted in a local paper said before Mr Evans was named: “We saw him coming in to land from the aerodrome.
“Perhaps he was going a little fast and high but we’ll have to wait to see what the investigation says.
“We’ve known him a long time. He was a chef at a very important flying club in the south of London.
“He’s spent up to four months of the year here at times because of the passion he had for flying.”
Yesterday’s accident was the first in the province of Huelva, which Jaca is part of.
Santa Cilia aerodrome is regarded as one of the best locations in Spain for gliding, with the thermals and air currents in the area making it a reference point for both amateurs and professionals.
Thanks to its position at the foothills of the Pyrenean range, it is possible to enjoy a pleasure flight over the spectacular Pyrenees.
The aerodrome hosted the Spanish National Gliding Championships in 2010 and is visited annually by hundreds of glider pilots from all over Europe.