THE King of Spain, Don Juan Carlos, was in the Balearics yesterday on specially arranged visits to the military air base at Son Sant Joan in Palma, and an Air Force Surveillance unit in Soller.

Arriving at Son Sant Joan at 11.30am, he continued his journey up to Soller in an AS-332 “Superpuma” helicopter, which he piloted himself for part of the way. He briefly visited the installations there before returning to Palma to inspect Air Force Squadron 801.

Today formed part of the King's agenda which is set aside for military reviews across Spain throughout the year. When he arrived back in Palma from Soller, Don Juan Carlos was officially received with honours by officers and men of the Air Force squadron. The King responded with a personal review of the troops before attending a small equipment and aircraft display, and a talk on the history of the squadron including a low-down on the aerial missions and rescues it had flown to date. The chief responsibility of Squadron 801 is to assist crew involved in either military or civilian air incidents.

Afterwards, the King signed the Roll of Honour and visited the mess facilities of the base where he was able to meet local government and military authorities who had joined forces to welcome the royal visitor. Amongst the key figures present were Balearic president - Francesc Antich; central government delegate in the Balearics - Ramón Socías; president of the Balearic parliament - María Antonia Munar; the leader of the Council of Majorca - Francina Armengol; and the mayoress of Palma, Aina Calvo. The monarch was accompanied on this trip by Spain's Air Force chief, Francisco José García de la Vega.