The Accident Investigation Board findings about Thunderbirds’ accident on June 2nd have been released. The report leads to a pilot’s error with combination of throttle trigger malfunction.
The crash occurred after The Thunderbirds performed a flyover at the United States Air Force Academy graduation in Colorado Springs.
The report stated that a throttle trigger malfunction and inadvertent throttle rotation resulted the accident in which the valued at approximately $29 million F-16CM aircraft, was destroyed.
After beginning landing procedures, the pilot Maj. Alex Turner inadvertently rotated the throttle, placing it into an engine cut-off position. Normally, this full rotation cannot occur unless a throttle trigger is pressed. However, the throttle trigger was stuck in the pressed position.
Once the engine cut-off occurred, the aircraft immediately lost thrust. The pilot attempted engine restart procedures, but was impossible at the low altitude of the aircraft. The pilot safely delayed his ejection until he navigated the aircraft to a grass field.
The pilot of the #6 Thunderbirds’ F-16CM aircraft Maj. Alex Turner, ejected safely and is walking around unhurt. Turner has over 1,500 hours in the F-16 and more than 270 combat hours over Libya and Iraq. This was his first show season with the team as he joined the team in October of 2015. After few weeks, he rejoins the USAF Thunderbirds aerobatic team to full demonstration routine.