June 2, 2016 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A Thunderbirds' F-16 jet went down in Widefield, which is south of Colorado Springs. This happened right after a fly-over at the Air Force Academy graduation ceremony Thursday.
Picture of the downed Thunderbird near Powers and Fontaine who crashed on June 2nd, 2016. The pilot ejected safely. [Photo by Brennan Linsley, The Associated Press]
The pilot was able to parachute to safely while his jet went down in a field. The Colorado Springs Fire Department said the pilot was being evaluated by Air Force Academy paramedics. The Thunderbird pilot purposely went down in that open field to avoid harming anyone.
Every year, they travel to Colorado for the USAF Academy graduation flyover.
The pilot was in jet number 6 (Opposing Solo). According to the Thunderbirds website, the pilot is Maj. Alex "Tuna" Turner, who is in his first year with the team. Turner has logged 1,200 flight hours as an Air Force pilot and more than 270 combat hours over Libya and Iraq
. In fact, he is the pilot who flew what is believed to be the two longest Viper combat missions in history back in 2011.
The pilot has been taken to a medical facility on Peterson.President Obama met with him to make sure he was ok before departing in AF1 just now. Mr. Obama was at the graduation site at the time of the crash.
The U.S. Air Force demonstration team will be stood down for an undetermined amount of time, following this mishap. A stand down following a significant mishap is standard procedure, allowing accident investigation officials to gather facts and ensure the continued safe operation of the aircraft.
Only moments after the Thunderbirds crash, a U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron Blue Angels F-18 jet crashed in Smyrna, Tennessee, near Nashville.