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Image source, Dorset Biz News

Image caption, David Ashley ran a property business in Poole

A former RAF pilot died when the military jet he was in crashed in mountains in northern Italy.

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Plane manufacturer Leonardo said the M-346 came down on Monte Legnone near Colico, Lombardy, shortly before noon, local time, on Wednesday.

It said the two crew members ejected but the body of David Ashley, a married 49-year-old father of two from Poole in Dorset, was later recovered.

The cause of the crash is not yet known.

A statement from Leonardo said the trainer aircraft had taken off from its Venegono Superiore site at Varese at 11:00.

It said: “The flight plan included trials aimed at demonstrating specific capabilities which had already been tested during several flights already carried out in the past.

“At 11:35am, any contact with the aircraft was lost. Thanks to the prompt responsiveness of the rescue teams, the aircraft wreckage was identified nearby Colico (Monte Legnone), between Como and 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.”

It said Mr Ashley was a pilot instructor from an external company. The plane’s pilot was reported to have been taken to hospital with minor injuries.

In an interview with the DorsetBizNews website in 2019, Mr Ashley, a former RAF Harrier and F18 pilot, described being injured while taking part in air training in Qatar, before setting up a property business in Poole.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are supporting the family of a British national who has died in Italy and are in contact with the local authorities.”

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