The military airbase at San Javier can be traced back to 1927 and was home from the beginning for various units from the school of Naval Aeronautics, this teaching and educational facility over time became the General Air Academy or Academia del Aire (AGA).
The Naval Aeronautic schools originally built what is today the San Javier airport and its hangars, some of which are more or less the same as they were 90 years ago and have stood the test of time.
In more recent times Murcia-San Javier Airport became a civilian passenger airport yet remained a military air base situated 42km from Murcia City. It was replaced by the new Region de Murcia International Airport or Corvera as it is also known in mid-January 2019.
In the years before its civilian closure it was a very busy airport with the arrival of a number of European low-cost airline operators like Jet2, easyjet and Ryanair among others.
Between 2004 and 2011 substantial investments were made including a €60 million runway and new terminal buildings, however this did not stop the progress of the new airport of Corvera moving forwards.
In November 2011 the Secretary of State for Transport Isaias Taboas and the Minister for Public Works Antonio Sevilla signed the documentation that led to the eventual proposals to close of San Javier to civilian air traffic from 2012, this did not happen on time and several years passed without much change. In 2012 San Javier saw a peak of passengers numbering over 1.1million travellers passing through the terminal.
However as capable of being an international air travel asset as it proved, in November 2017 AEANA was awarded by the Spanish Government the contract to manage the new Corvera airport, with confirmation following in 2018 that San Javier would close and flights would be transferred.
The new airport that is situated closer to the City of Murcia than its predecessor came into service in mid-January 2019 with the closure of San Javier on the 14th of January the same year, the final flight out of the airport was Ryanair FR4117 to Manchester. (It was probably raining at the destination).
San Javier Today
The air base as a military function dates back to the early 1930’s and possibly beyond with a history mainly of piston and jet-engine training craft for the Spanish Air Force College and home to the
Patrulla Águila the Spanish Air Force aerobatic display team, who are regularly seen practicing in tight formation flying over the Mar Menor and along the coastline.
The history of aviation has always had a close links to aerobatics and the Patrulla Aguila formed on the 4th of July 1985 did not create something new it was a simple continuation of a tradition that had been in the Spanish Air Force over decades.
The group was formed by Captains Carrizosa, Polo, Lorenzo, Novau, Segura, Villanueva, Uribarri, Ferrer and Bordallo. The number of planes grew from five to eight over the next few years and in 1992 on the 12th of October a national holiday the skies over Sevilla were painted for the first time with the colours of the Spanish flag.
Nowadays the aerial display team is built around 12 CASA C-101 Aviojet training aircraft at airshows seven of the planes are used in the displays with one of the 12 always remaining in the home-base.
With the callsign of “Aguila”. “Patrulla Águila” the team of 11 pilots (with one spare pilot) perform aerobatic displays of varying difficulty with the aircraft enhancing the spectators enjoyment by plumbing the sky with red, yellow and white bursts of smoke.
There is also a 30 strong team with 16 front-line technicians that prepare and look after the aircraft prior to and during the demonstrations. The squadron now has accrued more than 25000 flying hours and as an Ambassador for Spain takes its place in numerous world-wide aeronautical acrobatic displays.
The Municipal Aeronautical Museum Los Alcázares Today
This small but highly significant museum can be found opposite the military airbase in San Javier. Originally opened in 1999 to honour the history of the base that started to be built in 1915 following the idea that the skies were going to be exploitable for various reasons using aircraft. The base was home to the first Spanish Seaplane and the installations that created and housed it are still intact, taking the museum visitor back to the era of seaplanes and military training craft rumbling across the skies over the Mar Menor.
The museum houses two small salons that present audio and visual presentations informing the visitor of the activities of the airbase during the Spanish Civil War.
Various aircraft models can be viewed along with examples of aerial photography and an array of weapons including anti-aircraft guns, helmets and many objects connected with the air arm of the Spanish military.
For visitors wishing to visit San Javier air base it will require (as it remains an active military facility) special permissions therefore it is advisable to check before going.
From its military beginnings in 1915 to Corvera now in 2020 a journey that is over a hundred years old but still continues, this is what happened and is happening to airport San Javier.