Paul Lowry, 66, died instantly after the plane jumped into sea off a beach near the port city of Cartagena.
A canoeist helped lift his body out of the water with the help of a second man, who was enjoying a day on his longboard. His body was brought ashore on a small boat which was in the area.
Javier Martinez Pacheco, friend and flight manager at the aerodrome from which he started, said: “He was a very experienced pilot who had been flying for many years.
“He was also a very serious pilot who never did anything stupid with his plane when he was on board.
“Paul followed all the rules. He was very correct and responsible in the way he flew in this plane and others that he had before.
“You know there is a risk associated with a hobby like theft, but what happened is obviously very unfortunate and tragic.
“We mourn the loss of a companion and suffer with his family and we feel absolutely devastated.
“Other people were going to fly with him but ended up staying to do maintenance and he left on his own. “
An autopsy will take place today and the results will be sent to a local court.
An investigation is underway into the cause of the accident, which allegedly took place in thick fog.
But Paul, a former hospital employee, has been described as an experienced pilot. He had difficulties a few moments after leaving Totana aerodrome, a small aeronautical hall.
Mr Pacheco added: “It looks like he just had some bad luck and encountered an unusual weather phenomenon in this area that could have caused problems for anyone by disorienting them.
“It looks like he could have encountered a coastal sea fog bank in an area where it does not normally form and had problems because of it.
“Paul was one of seven Brits who are members of the Totana Flying Club here.
“She was a great person who was also ready to lend a hand when needed.”
The local newspaper reports that Paul was performing acrobatics in the air before the crash was destroyed by police sources and Mr. Pacheco.
A spokesperson for the Civil Guard, the police force investigating the crash, confirmed that an investigation was underway.
The Civil Aviation Accident and Incident Investigation Commission (CIAIAC), Spain’s national air traffic investigation agency, will also conduct its own separate investigation.
Cartagena Mayor Ana Belen Castejon wrote on Twitter: “My sincere condolences to the friends and relatives of the deceased man.
“Unfortunately, nothing could be done to save his life.”
Luis Martinez Escudero, one of the men who helped remove the Briton’s body from the sea, told a local newspaper: “We saw a body float face down in the water five minutes after the sea fell. ‘plane.
“I put the body down on the longboard I was on with the help of a canoeist who also headed for the same spot.
“We then transferred the deceased to a boat which arrived and took him to a nearby port.”
A spokesperson for a government-run regional emergency response coordination center said: “We can confirm the death of a 66-year-old man who was in a light plane crash in Cala Reona, in the municipality of Cartagena.