Beachgoers at Poço da Cruz, Mira, watched in horror yesterday afternoon as a microlight started to drop altitude rapidly and then swerve to avoid them, before crashing onto the sands.
Experienced 48-year-old pilot Fernando Jerónimo, on holiday from France, “died trying to avoid the many people on the beach”, Portuguese media has reported.
His 25-year-old passenger, described this far only as a Frenchman, was seriously injured in the crash and is now being treated in hospital in Coimbra.
According to eyewitness reports, the microlight appears to have suffered engine failure seconds before it came crashing to the ground.
“I started seeing it losing altitude rapidly, and then realising people were down below, it swerved brusquely, descending in free-fall,” a friend of the victim is quoted telling reporters.
The tragedy took place a little after 5pm yesterday afternoon when the popular beach was packed with families out for a day by the sea.