USAF Report: Wet Runway Contributed To Thunderbird F-16 Crash In Dayton

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USAF Thunderbird #8 Crash in Dayton, OH
Photo via AP: Dayton Daily News

US Air Force officials stated that “excess speed and insufficient stopping distance” on a soaked runway resulted in the crash of a two seat F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the USAF Thunderbirds in Dayton, Ohio this past June.

Capt. Erik “Speedy” Gonsalves, Thunderbird #8, was in command of the jet at the time of the incident. Sgt. Kenneth Cordova, a maintenance crew member, was also on board at the time. The two were on a “familiarization flight” over Dayton while the team was in town to perform at the 2017 Vectren Dayton Airshow.

Upon landing, the jet slid off the runway and into the grass, causing the aircraft to flip.

The report mentions that Gonsalves missed his first landing approach and that water had restricted the view of his head-up display or HUD. This forced him to rely solely on cockpit instruments. On the second approach, the report claims that Gonsalves focused more on the runway than his airspeed, contributing to the crash. The Thunderbird F-16 touched down with only 6,130 feet of runway left. Seven to eight thousand feet of runway is required to land safely on wet pavement. The aircraft exited the runway and came to rest upside down in the grass nearby. It was destroyed in the incident.

An audio recording between Air Traffic Control and Thunderbird 8, obtained by the Dayton Daily News last month, revealed that the pilot was warned of “extreme precipitation” in the area and that ATC told him he was “flying at your own risk.”

In a statement, Air Combat Command spokeswoman Maj. Malinda Singleton said “Capt. Gonsalves is traveling with the team and narrating shows, but he is not medically cleared to fly at this time.”

USAF Thunderbird F-16 Involved In Mishap At 2017 Dayton Air Show

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USAF Thunderbirds 7 and 8 at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010

AirshowStuff has learned that an F-16 belonging to the USAF Thunderbirds has been involved in an incident at the Dayton Air Show in Dayton, OH.

According to eyewitnesses, the incident occurred after the F-16 landed and was taxiing. The plane went off the runway and is currently in the grass. Law enforcement in the Dayton area are confirming than a Thunderbird jet is “on its top.”

This picture, posted by Dayton Daily News shows emergency crews responding to the incident scene.

The pilot of the jet at the time was Thunderbird #8, Capt. Erik “Speedy” Gonsalves. Tech Sargent Kenneth Cordova was the backseater. The mission was on a familiarization flight for Tech Sargent Cordova.

Both occupants of the plane were transported to the hospital. Thunderbird #1 says that injuries are non-life threatening. Tech Sargent Cordova had no visible injuries and is doing “just fine.” Thunderbird #8 had lacerations and injuries to his leg but is in stable to good condition and doing well.

There was heavy rain and wind in the area at the time of the incident. We’ll post more details on our forums as they become available.

The plane took off around 10:30 am this morning. Weather at the time met the criteria for the flight. He flew an instrument procedure approach to recover to the base. Mishap happened after landing on Runway 6L.

An accident safety board will investigate and the results will be made public at a later time. The Thunderbirds will NOT perform on Saturday at the Dayton Airshow. Sunday’s performance is to be determined.


WATCH: The Mighty B-52 Stratofortress Takes Off Right Over Your Head

The BUFF Is The Stuff!

It’s hard to beat the sight of a B-52 coming at you. One of the most iconic symbols of American air power, the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress has been flying since the 1950’s, and is scheduled to remain in service for at least another 15 years. The crew at AirshowStuff.com love the mighty BUFF (Big Ugly Fat….Fellow), and here’s your chance to see this awesome piece of history up close in a unique end-of-runway view. In 2015, the B-52 made it’s first-ever appearance at the famed EAA AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh, WI.

Watch as the Stratofortress spools up its eight Pratt and Whitney TF-33 engines and rolls down the runway right at you! You get a head-on view as the B-52 lifts off and screams overhead. You’ll see this legend of the cold war’s unique landing gear retraction sequence, followed by an overhead pass with the scream of the engines so loud, you’ll almost feel the ground shaking below you! As the BUFF comes around for a final pass, you’ll see the smoke from the engines, the twinkle of the landing lights, and the sheer size of this massive warrior as it approaches. You’ll even get a “goodbye” wave from the crew as it passes down the runway toward you before departing. So set your video player to full screen, turn up the speakers, and enjoy every second of this awesome video in full HD, because you have one of the best seats in the house!

Be sure to browse the AirshowStuffVideos channel on YouTube for more great videos.

-Justin Miner

Boeing B-52 StratofortressB-52 Stratofortress Flyover