Back on June 2nd an Air Force Thunderbird F-16 crashed after performing a flyover at the Air Force Academy graduation ceremony. Today the Air Force released the findings of the accident report.
After beginning landing procedures, the pilot inadvertently rotated the throttle, placing it into an engine cut-off position. Normally, this full rotation cannot occur unless a throttle trigger is affirmatively actuated or pressed. However, the throttle trigger was “stuck” in the “pressed” position. The accident investigation board observed debris accumulation in the throttle trigger, combined with wear on the trigger assembly.
Once the engine cut-off occurred, the aircraft immediately lost thrust. The pilot attempted engine restart procedures, but restart was impossible at the low altitude of the aircraft. The pilot safely delayed his ejection until he navigated the aircraft to a grass field. – Air Combat Command
Listen to Audio of Thunderbird Pilots Just Before the Crash
The F-16 valued at around $29 million dollars was a total loss. An interesting note is that President Obama was attending the graduation ceremony and greeted the pilot after he successfully ejected from the F-16 and walked away unharmed.
Major Alex Turner, a career F-16 pilot with over 1200 hours in the aircraft saluted the President as they approached each other and then exchanged handshakes. Reporters stated the President thanked him for his service and expressed relief that he was not injured. Major Turner later resumed flying with the team.
Watch Major Turner Greet President Obama
The Thunderbird crash occurred the same day a Navy Blue Angel jet went down in Smyrna, Tennessee killing the pilot Marine Captain Jeff Kuss.
Featured Image by KOAA News 5