Audio Proves Pilot Heroically Avoided Houses Amid Thunderbirds Crash

news
Maj. Alex Turner, Thunderbird 6, engages with fans as he taxis to the runway during the Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona air show at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., March 12, 2016.
U.S. Air Force photo

The Air Force on Tuesday was still investigating the Colorado Springs crash of an Air Force Thunderbirds jet and had no timeline for completion of the inquiry, a spokeswoman for Air Combat Command in Virginia said.


RELATED: Why the Air Force is paying big bonuses to some pilots and forcing others out »

Air Traffic Control radio tapes released Tuesday by the Federal Aviation Administration, though, show engine problems hit seconds before the F-16 fighter crashed just south of the Colorado Springs Airport.

The June 2 crash came after the Thunderbirds flying team put on a show over the Air Force Academy graduation ceremony. The jets were below 500 feet on their final approach to the airport when Thunderbird 6 pilot Maj. Alex Turner reported trouble.

"It suddenly cycled the engine off and on in the descent," he told air traffic controllers.

Seconds later, Turner said he was aiming the plane into a field and ejecting.

"I'm putting it away from somebody's house here," Turner said. "I'm getting out."

Turner safely ejected from the stricken jet, which crashed in a field off Powers and Fontaine boulevards about a block away from a church and cluster of homes.

The indication of engine failure is the first hint at what went wrong with the plane.

The Air Force hasn't given any indication of what may have led to the crash and leaders say nothing will be released before the investigation is finished, as soon as next month.

F-16s like those flown by the Thunderbirds have proven prone to engine troubles over their decades of service.

If the F-16's single jet engine fails, pilots have seconds to find a place to safely ditch. Leaders have said Turner's actions to aim the plane into an open field saved lives.

Turner, an 11-year veteran of the Air Force, has logged more than 1,200 hours in the cockpit, including 270 in combat over Iraq and Libya, the Air Force said.

Turner walked away from the crash and was greeted minutes later by Air Force Academy graduation speaker President Barack Obama at the airport.

The flying team briefly was grounded after the crash, but returned to the air last month with Turner in a cockpit.

The wrecked jet was hauled to Peterson Air Force Base after the crash where it was meticulously disassembled to determine what caused the incident.

———

©2016 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

U.S. Army aviation officials have launched an effort to restore full air assault capability to the 101st Airborne Division — a capability the Screaming Eagles have been without since 2015.

Read More Show Less

The U.S. military's withdrawal from northeast Syria is looking more like Dunkirk every day.

On Wednesday, the U.S. military had to call in an airstrike on one of its own ammunition dumps in northern Syria because the cargo trucks required to safely remove the ammo are needed elsewhere to support the withdrawal, Task & Purpose has learned.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump belittled his former defense secretary, James Mattis, by characterizing him as the "world's most overrated general," according to a Washington Post report published Wednesday.

The account from numerous officials came during an afternoon closed door meeting with congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Wednesday. In the meeting, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reportedly brought up dissenting views towards the president's decision to withdraw the vast majority of roughly 1,000 U.S. troops stationed in Syria.

Read More Show Less

Retired two-star Navy. Adm. Joe Sestak is the highest ranking — and perhaps, least known — veteran who is trying to clinch the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.

Sestak has decades of military experience, but he is not getting nearly as much media attention as fellow veterans Pete Buttigieg and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii). Another veteran, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) has dropped out of the race.

Read More Show Less

After preliminary fitness test scores leaked in September, many have voiced concerns about how women would fare in the new Army Combat Fitness Test.

The scores — which accounted for 11 of the 63 battalions that the ACFT was tested on last year — showed an overall failure rate of 84% for women, and a 70% pass rate for men.

But Army leaders aren't concerned about this in the slightest.

Read More Show Less