Thunderbird jet crashed in Colorado; Team last in Dayton in ’15

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
The Air Force identified the pilot as Maj. Alex Turner, of Chelmsford, Massachusetts. He has more than 270 combat hours over Libya and Iraq.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

U.S. Air Force: Pilot ejected and not hurt

UPDATE @ 4 p.m.

The pilot ejected safely and is walking around, not hurt, according to a U.S. Air Force tweet.

For decades, the Thunderbirds have made appearances at the Dayton Air Show, last flying here in 2015.

Air Show Executive Director Terry Grevious said Thunderbird crashes are rare given the number of performances the team flies every year and has flown over the decades.

Historically, the Thunderbirds have temporarily taken time off the air show circuit after a crash, he said.

“It’s not usual for them to be off the circuit for two to three weeks or perhaps longer if it was a more serious incident,” he said.

Based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., the team flies six F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets in acrobatic formations. The team’s 2013 show season, which was to include a stop in Dayton, was scrubbed because of automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.

On June 18-19, the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels demonstration team will headline the 2016 Vectren Dayton Air Show.

UPDATE @ 3:50 p.m.

An Air Force Thunderbird jet crashed south of Colorado Springs this afternoon just after a flyover for a graduation of Air Force Academy cadets where President Barack Obama had spoken, the Associated Press reports.

Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Michal Kloeffler-Howard said the pilot ejected. There was no information on the pilot’s condition. No injuries on the ground were reported, according to the AP.

Obama was still at the graduation site at the time of the crash, taking photos with attendees prior to returning to Washington. He later met with the pilot who crashed about 15 miles south of the academy, AP reported.

FIRST REPORT

A Thunderbird jet crashed near Colorado Springs today after a performance over the Air Force Academy graduation.

The pilot ejected before the crash and sources said the pilot was not injured, CBS affiliate KKTV in Colorado reported.

President Obama was commencement speaker.

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