Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Peterson, community respond to Air Force Thunderbird crash

(U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Meade) SECURITY-WIDEFIELD, Colo. — Joint service crews from several area military bases load Thunderbird 6 on a trailer for transport to Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., June 7, 2016. The aircraft crashed here June 2, 2016.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Meade) SECURITY-WIDEFIELD, Colo. — Joint service crews from several area military bases load Thunderbird 6 on a trailer for transport to Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., June 7, 2016. The aircraft crashed here June 2, 2016.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Meade)
SECURITY-WIDEFIELD, Colo. — Joint service crews from several area military bases load Thunderbird 6 on a trailer for transport to Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., June 7, 2016. The aircraft crashed here June 2, 2016.

By Master Sgt. Jared Marquis

21st Space Wing Public Affairs

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Peterson Air Force Base personnel, along with civilian community partners, provided emergency response June 2 to the crash of an Air Force Thunderbird F-16C Fighting Falcon.

Thunderbird 6 was on final approach following a demonstration at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

The pilot, Maj. Alex Turner, was able to guide the aircraft to an open field in the Security-Widefield area before safely ejecting from the aircraft.

First responders from Peterson, Security-Widefield, Colorado Springs, Fort Carson and El Paso County responded to the incident within minutes of the crash.

Firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians from the Security Fire Department evaluated Turner at the scene while El Paso county and 21st Security Forces Squadron established an initial cordon of the crash site. Turner was brought first to Peterson Air Force Base where he was evaluated by a flight surgeon and then transported to Memorial Hospital for follow up evaluation and released shortly after.

“Air Force pilots are trained to safe themselves and try to put the aircraft in a safe location,” said Col. Doug Schiess, 21st Space Wing commander. “We are very happy that Maj. Turner was able to walk away from this and no individuals were hurt on the ground.”

The Air Force and community conduct regular exercises on various scenarios to improve the joint response to incidents like this, said Lt. Col. Chad Gemeinhardt, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron commander and Emergency Operations Center director for the crash.

“As soon as we were notified, our folks, along with our community partners established a unified command and took over the scene,” said Gemeinhardt. “Apart from the safety of the pilot, our first priority was the safety of the community and the recovery of the aircraft. That process was done well with the help of our community partners.”

The response, safing of the aircraft and evaluation of the pilot were a complete team effort, said Schiess.

“I want to say thanks to the community, Colorado Springs is a huge military friendly community and we work together very well,” said Schiess. “We have a great relationship with our community partners and we did a great job of working together. Thank you to all 21st Space Wing members for their efforts in the emergency response and recovery efforts.”

The wing, along with area partners, are assisting the Safety Investigation Board with the recovery process. This includes relocating the aircraft to Peterson to continue the investigation to determine the cause of the crash.

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