Thunderbird F-16 Crashes In Nevada; Pilot Killed

US Air Force Thunderbirds - F-16 Fighting Falcon

UPDATE: The name of the pilot has been released.

ORIGINAL POST: An F-16 Fighting Falcon jet belonging to the US Air Force Thunderbirds crashed Wednesday inside the military’s Nevada Test and Training Range outside of Nellis AFB. The pilot of the jet was killed, however, the name has not been released yet pending next of kin notification. We expect to hear the name on Thursday. An investigation is being conducted into the cause of the mishap.

The team was performing an airshow practice routine near Creech AFB in Indian Springs, NV when the crash occurred. The Thunderbirds are based at nearby Nellis AFB, which sits on the outskirts of Las Vegas, NV. They opened their 2018 airshow season just a week and a half ago after canceling a couple of appearances to allow extra training time for their new commanding officer.

This is the first fatal crash for the team since 1982, when the four pilots in the diamond formation were killed after failing to recover from a loop. The famous incident became known as the “diamond crash”, and occurred in the same training area as today’s crash.

There have been more recent nonfatal crashes; in 2016 Thunderbird #6 crashed just short of the runway at Peterson AFB in Colorado after the team performed a flyover for the US Air Force Academy graduation ceremony. The pilot ejected safely, and the crash was eventually blamed on a faulty throttle component. The same day, Capt. Jeff Kuss of the US Navy Blue Angels demonstration team was killed in a crash while practicing for an airshow in Smyrna, TN.

In 2017, Thunderbird #8 skidded off a soaked runway while landing at the Dayton Airshow in Ohio. The flight was not part of the airshow; it was a “familiarization flight” with a member of the team’s maintenance crew in the back seat. Both pilot and passenger survived, though the pilot was injured.

There are few details available at this point, but we will update you once the pilot’s name is released. In the mean time, be sure to check our forums for further discussion on the crash and what it means for the airshow season. The team’s participation at the March Air Reserve Base “The March Field Air & Space Expo” has been cancelled.

7 Responses

  1. Andre Orr

    Sorry about the sad news! My sincere condolences to the family, friends and team members!

  2. Lily Boyer

    The Thunderbirds definitely have the WOW factor in flying high! I offer my deepest condolences to the family, friends and the team members. Godspeed.

  3. Jackie

    This is so sad , and the performance at March Field this weekend was to help celebrate March ARB 100th anniversary

  4. Mike

    When I first heard about this, I was hoping the pilot would’ve ejected safely, but sad to hear he was killed. This is (one reason) why (locally – at least at/around Luke AFB – and privately), the F-16 is known as the “Lawn Dart”.

  5. Gary

    The loss of this great American is beyond measure, and even worse for his family. Our thoughts snd prayers will always be with them

  6. D. Whitfield

    I was stationed at Indian Spring AFB in the early sixties, saw a couple of Thunder Bird crashes there during that period !!!

  7. Ginger strange

    That’s so sad. The show is so great and I always enjoy going.

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