COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Newly released audio is providing some insight into what may have caused a Thunderbird to crash moments after the Air Force Academy graduation in June.
The June 2 crash came as the jets were flying below 500 feet on their final approach to the Colorado Springs Airport.
The pilot of Thunderbird 6 reported engine trouble; seconds later the plane crashed into an open field.
The possibility of engine failure is the first glimpse at what could have possibly gone wrong with the plane.
Major Alex Turner, an 11-year veteran of the Air Force, was in the cockpit that day and has since been praised for his quick thinking which undoubtedly saved lives.
Just moments before the F-16 jet crashed, Turner radioed air traffic control to report trouble.
“It suddenly cycled the engine off and on in the descent,” Turner said.
Only seconds later did Turner avoid crashing into several homes before ejecting.
“I’m putting it away from somebody’s house here,” he said. “I’m getting out.”
The F-16 pilot safely ejected from the jet which landed just blocks away from a church and several homes.
“The aircraft impacted just off of a road,” said audio from an air traffic controller. “The pilot seems to be… (inaudible) and seems to be responsive.”
Turner was later greeted at the airport by Air Force commencement speaker President Barack Obama. He returned to flying with the Thunderbirds last month.
The Thunderbird team briefly postponed flying after the crash as the wrecked jet was later taken to Peterson Air Force Base to determine what caused the accident.
The official cause of the crash won’t be released until the investigation is finished. Authorities say an answer could come within a couple weeks.