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Peterson AFB, CO– On 2 JUN, 2016, F-16C (91-0392) crashed on landing approach when “Something went wrong.” The aircraft was assigned to the 57th Aerial Demonstration Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nevada. The aircraft was Thunderbird 6, Opposing Solo. The aircraft was named “Sweet Baby Aurora 6”. Major Alex Turner safely ejected from the aircraft after steering it into an open field. Early reports say that he injured his arm in the ejection.
The Thunderbirds were returning to Peterson AFB after performing a fly-over as part of the graduation ceremonies at the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado. President Obama was also there for the graduation and stopped his motorcade to thank Major Turner for his service. A Blackhawk (HH-64) assigned to Presidential security conduced Search and Rescue operations to recover Major Turner before returning to the Presidential detail.
This crash comes on the heels of a fatal Blue Angel crash earlier in the day near Smyrna, Tennessee. Navy officials confirm that the pilot of the F/A-18 was killed in the crash apparently unable to eject shortly after the plane had taken off.
The Thunderbirds have had two other mishaps since 2003.
14 September 2003: Captain Chris Stricklin, flying Thunderbird No. 6 (F-16), crashed during an airshow at Mountain Home AFB.
20 August 2005: The Thunderbirds temporarily grounded themselves pending an investigation into a minor mid-air incident during the Chicago Air & Water Show.
Obama arrived late to the graduation. He also ran long delivering his speech, while the Thunderbirds orbited out of sight waiting to do the final fly over. This had led to reports that the cause of the crash was fuel stagnation (running out of gas). Along with the mishap aircraft, all was not well with the rest of the team. Witnesses at Peterson AFB claim that one T-bird flamed out in the chocks on recovery and at least one more flamed out on the taxiway after departing the runway.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Alexander Rodriguez, a U.S. Air Force firefighter stationed in San Angelo, Texas, who was visiting with his family, said he raced from his brother’s house after hearing “a few loud bangs” and saw the plane gliding close to the ground before impact.
If I remember my F-16 engine class, when the engine stagnates due to fuel the compressor stalls. This stall (or multiple stalls) can be heard as a loud bang or series of bangs..
— James Dougherty (@DoughertyKMGH) June 3, 2016
Readers may note no fire damage on aircraft.
Is the discoloration aft of the cockpit due to the EPU firing?
Thunderbirds pilot Maj. Alex Turner and his flight commander, Lt. Col. Christopher Hammond, have been fired and their careers ruined. (more)
I want some F-16 pilots watch the following video. It shows the HUD during the mishap. I’d like to know what the fuel state was in the HUD.
WATCH: Cockpit and HUD video of Thunderbird 6 crash on June 2, 2016 https://t.co/zFIqW9mEoU
— Walt Chamberlain (@walt313) December 16, 2016