British ex-RAF pilot and father-of-two, 49, killed in Italy jet crash

A pilot who was killed on a training flight over mountains in has been named as a British father-of-two from Dorset who had already survived an earlier plane crash.

Experienced pilot David Ashley, 49, was in a Leonardo jet when it crashed in snow covered mountains north of Lake Como, Mail Online has learned.

The M-346 trainer aircraft went down near the town of Colico in Lombardy at approximately 12:00pm yesterday afternoon.

Former RAF pilot David Ashley, 49, with his wife Heather in 2019. The couple have two sons

Former RAF pilot David Ashley, 49, kampus terbaik di lampung with his wife Heather in 2019.The couple have two sons

The recovery of Mr Ashley's body in Italy was filmed

The recovery of Mr Ashley’s body in Italy was filmed

Two pilots ejected the plane moments before it crashed at an altitude of about 8,200 feet and caught fire on the Lecco mountainside.

Former RAF pilot Mr Ashley, who is understood to have been with an Italian pilot at the time, was killed in the incident but his colleague, named as Giampaolo Goattin, survived and is not thought to have been seriously injured.

Mr Ashley spent several months recovering from injuries after his first crash. Previously based in the middle east, his family moved to Poole in Dorset to help in his rehabilitation

Mr Ashley spent several months recovering from injuries after his first crash.Previously based in the middle east, his family moved to Poole in Dorset to help in his rehabilitation 

It’s not clear if Mr Ashley or Giampaolo Goattin was at the controls of the aircraft at the time they had to eject.

Footage from the crash scene shows smoke billowing from wreckage in a show-covered ravine.

Eyewitnesses took to social media to describe the ‘fireball’ in the mountains and how when the plane crashed it made a ‘terrifying huge roar’.

An FCDO spokesperson said: ‘We are supporting the family of a British national who has died in Italy and are in contact with the local authorities.’

Mr Ashley, who was married to wife Heather with whom he had two sons, had previously survived ejecting from a crash just three years ago.

The former RAF Harrier and F18 pilot sustained a broken back, hip and ankle and fractured eye socket after ejecting during air combat manoeuvres while training in Qatar in July 2019.

His mask and visors were torn off during the ejection and he hit an object which shattered his eye socket.

Initially, it was feared he had lost his right eye after what he later described as a ‘particularly savage’ parachute landing while his back was already broken.

Mr Ashley joined the RAF on a scholarship at 17 and spent 18 years in the military before joining BAE Systems as a fighter pilot instructor

Mr Ashley joined the RAF on a scholarship at 17 and spent 18 years in the military before joining BAE Systems as a fighter pilot instructor

Mr Ashley and his wife Heather are pictured together. Heather is a fitness and wellness coach

Mr Ashley and his wife Heather are pictured together.Heather is a fitness and wellness coach

Mr Ashley, who joined the RAF on a scholarship as a 17-year-old spent 18 years in the military before joining BAE Systems as a fighter pilot instructor, spent several months recovering from his injuries.

The family moved back from the middle east to Poole in Dorset to help in his rehabilitation.

As well as pilot training work he also ran a property development business with his wife which specialised in helping people wishing to build wealth through property but lacking the time or knowledge to do it alone.

Mrs Ashley, who had a retail career before starting the property business with her husband told a local paper in 2019 that they had chosen to settle in Dorset because of the quality of life and ‘fabulous scenery’.

She said then: ‘We selected Dorset because it’s just such a fabulous place to live.’

A spokesman in Italy said: ‘On the morning of 16 March an M-346 aircraft crashed in the area above Monte Legnone, near Lecco in Northern Italy. 

‘Unfortunately, the rescue teams arriving at the site of the accident ascertained the death of one of the two pilots.Leonardo expresses its most heartfelt condolences. Any theory on the possible causes is premature.

David Ashley has died after a Leonardo military training jet (pictured) crashed during a 'test flight' in the mountains north of Lake Como

David Ashley has died after a Leonardo military training jet (pictured) crashed during a ‘test flight’ in the mountains north of Lake Como

The M-346 trainer aircraft went down near the town of Colico, near Lake Como (Pictured) in Italy at approximately 12:00pm on March 16 after it was conducting tests for the Italian Armed Forces

The M-346 trainer aircraft went down near the town of Colico, near Lake Como (Pictured) in Italy at approximately 12:00pm on March 16 after it was conducting tests for the Italian Armed Forces 

‘The aircraft involved in the accident was flown by a crew of two made of a Leonardo test pilot and an outsourced instructor pilot. 

‘The aircraft took to the air from Leonardo’s Venegono Superiore site (Varese – Italy) at 11am following the technical checks prior to flight authorization, completed shortly ahead of take-off and performed in full compliance with the inspection plan.

‘We would like to express our mosst heartfelt condolences for the loss of the pilot.Our deepest sympathies are with his family.’

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