Thunderbirds pilot recovering at home


Thunderbirds pilot recovering at home

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Capt. Erik Gonsalves

An Air Force Thunderbirds pilot injured in a F-16D fighter jet that ran off a runway and overturned at Dayton International Airport last month is now recovering at home, the Air Force confirmed Saturday.

Capt. Erik Gonsalves, team narrator who flew the Thunderbird No. 8 jet, was hurt June 23 in the mishap that remains under investigation.

Gonsalves and a back seat passenger, Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Cordova, were trapped in the two-seat jet after it flipped over in a grassy area when the plane returned from a “familiarization flight” about 12:20 p.m. June 23. It took rescue workers about an hour and a half to free the pilot and nearly two hours to get the passenger out of the jet, authorities have said.

Gonsalves, who suffered lacerations and leg injuries, was at Miami Valley Hospital for several days before his release. Authorities have not disclosed the day he left the hospital. Wright-Patterson spokesman Daryl Mayer has said the pilot returned to the Thunderbirds home station at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Cordova, who did not have any visible injuries, was treated at a hospital and released, authorities have said.

The latest information was provided at the request of this news outlet.

The Thunderbirds, which fly six jets in aerobatic formations, canceled June 24-25 appearances at the Vectren Dayton Air Show after the mishap.

The team has since resumed performances and was scheduled to fly aerial demonstrations in France and England next week.

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