Thunderbirds Pilot Injured in Air Show Accident is From Fort Lauderdale

Cameron Gross
June 26, 2017

A fighter jet from the famed U.S. Air Force group the Thunderbirds ran off the runway after landing and flipped over at a Dayton airfield as the team practiced for an air show, officials said. The pilot, Capt. Kenneth Gonsalves, and Sgt. Kenneth Cordova, a maintenance tech, suffered minor injuries.

The pilot, Capt. Erik Gonsalves, had more than 1,600 flight hours, as well as combat experience, Heard said. They are both in good condition.

"Our first priority is taking care of our Thunderbird teammates and ensuring future safety" said Thunderbirds commander Lt. Col. Jason Heard. Video of the jet atop a flatbed trailer shows just how bad the damage to the aircraft is.

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The passenger in the plane was Sgt. Kenneth Cordova of Littleton. "Both teammates were extremely fearless during the extraction and we'd like to thank Wright-Patterson Crash and Recovery, Dayton International Fire Rescue, local police, medical personnel and team members on scene for their incredible recovery efforts". The airport got a record-breaking amount of rain that day, according to the Dayton Daily News, but the Air Force said the weather had been deemed safe to fly in.

Their conditions were not known and it was not immediately clear what caused the incident, according to NBC affiliate WDTN. He flies jet #8, an F-16D Fighting Falcon, in the squadron. "Not only for the public but also for other aviators in the Air Force to make sure it doesn't happen again".

An F-16 Thunderbird carrying two airmen - one from Colorado - was flipped over by a strong gust of wind Friday.

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