Thunderbird pilot steered clear of home before ditching jet

AP News
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Posted: Jul 25, 2016 8:03 PM

DENVER (AP) — An Air Force Thunderbird pilot who ditched his jet moments after flying over the Air Force Academy's commencement ceremony reported engine trouble and told air traffic controllers he was aiming the plane away from a home before he ejected safely into a field.

Maj. Alex Turner of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, had just flown over the crowd watching President Barack Obama's commencement address June 2. In an audio recording between air traffic controllers in Colorado Springs and the elite flying team, Turner said his jet was having engine problems.

About 10 seconds later, he told the tower he was aiming the plane away from a home and "getting out."

Turner, who has served in Libya and Iraq, parachuted safely and wasn't seriously injured. A rescue helicopter then ferried him to a face-to-face meeting with Obama.