Air Force: Thunderbird jet crashes after flyover of Air Force Academy commencement attended by Obama
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — A U.S. Navy Blue Angels jet and an Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 crashed Thursday in separate incidents in Tennessee and Colorado, officials said.
The F-16 crashed south of Colorado Springs, Colorado, after a U.S. Air Force Academy commencement ceremony attended by President Barack Obama.
A spokesman for the academy said the plane went down far from the stadium, and the pilot, a member of the Air Force’s Thunderbirds demonstration team, safely ejected.
Only the pilot was on board, FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.
There were no reported casualties on the ground, though the plane was badly damaged, said Robb Lingley of the Peterson Air Force Base public affairs department.
President Obama later met with the pilot when he visited the air force base.
“The President thanked the pilot for his service to the country and expressed his relief that the pilot was not seriously injured. The President also thanked the first responders who acted quickly to tend to the pilot,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.
Hours later, a U.S. Navy Blue Angels F/A-18 crashed in Smyrna, Tennessee, during practice for an upcoming air show, Navy spokeswoman Cmdr. Jeanette Groeneveld said.
Groeneveld said the military doesn’t have any immediate reports of injuries but is still waiting on news about the fate of the pilot.
But Rutherford County Emergency Management Director Tharrel Kast told CNN one person died as a result of a plane crash. Kast wouldn’t say whether the crash involved a Blue Angels jet or whether the person who reportedly died was the pilot or someone on the ground.