Pilot of plane that crashed killing Brazillian soccer team was AWOL from Air Force

Miguel Quiroga, the pilot of the plane that crashed in Lamia Colombia

The captain of the plane that went down over Colombia with a Brazilian futbol club aboard was reportedly a wanted man in the eyes of the Bolivian Air Force, having abandoned his post for better pay before fulfilling his military commitment.

“Captain (Miguel) Quiroga, who was a pilot of the plane that crashed, had a trial with the Bolivian Air Force, even had a warrant,” Bolivian Defense Minister Reymi Ferreira told state news agency ABI.

Quiroga reportedly grew tired of Air Force life and left before the end of his contract, resulting in a warrant for his arrest and a pending trial with the Bolivian Air Force. According to ElPais, it costs approximately $100,000 to train a Bolivian Air Force Pilot.

The pilot’s career path thinly resembles (albeit a more extreme example of going AWOL) the issue of low morale among US Air Force pilots, who leave the low-wage and high-stress military life for more comfortable positions with commercial airline carriers.

Quiroga had been carrying the Chapecoense team to a final game match when he was forced to hold while awaiting clearance to land at Medellin airport. Having been flying twenty minutes longer than it should have, the aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed, killing 71 aboard. Only six survived.

The Daily Mail reported that the plane missed its midway fuel stop due to a 20-minute delay involving a player’s missing video game. When they realized the airfield they were supposed to refuel at had closed earlier, the aircraft continued on its ultimately fatal journey.

The Bolivian government has reportedly since suspended  the operating certificates for LaMia, the charter airline involved in the crash.

LaMia director Gustavo Vargas, however, placed the blame of the crash on Captain Quiroga.

“The pilot was the one who made the decision,” said Vargas. He thought the fuel would last.”

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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