Crashed F-16D


By Dario Leone
Jun 24 2017
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The F-16D Fighting Falcon crashed into the grass as it taxied to the staging area following a performance at the Dayton Air Show

As reported by Fox31 in an article brought to my attention by The Aviation Geek Club reader Jared Smith, an F-16D belonging to the USAF Thunderbirds carrying a passenger was flipped over by a strong gust of wind on Jun. 23, 2017.

It seems the F-16D Fighting Falcon crashed into the grass as it taxied to the staging area following a performance at the Dayton Air Show at around 12:20 p.m.

Noteworthy before the rollover at Dayton International Airport, the F-16 flew the unfriendly skies as gusts reached up to 30 mph and heavy rain showered the area, sometimes pouring down as much as two inches per hour.

According to the Dayton Daily News, a CareFlight unit responded to the crash and removed the pilot, Capt. Erik Gonsalves, from the aircraft 90 minutes after the crash. The passenger, Sgt. Kenneth Cordova of Littleton, was rescued about 20 minutes later.

Dayton police and the CareFlight medic unit took both to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

According to the United States Air Force Thunderbirds website, Gonsalves is an advanced pilot and narrator with the team.

2017 marks Gonsalves first season with the team, but he has more than 1,600 flight hours under his belt as an Air Force Pilot, including more than 500 hours of combat experience.

The passenger in the plane was Sgt. Kenneth Cordova of Littleton. Cordova is a tactical aircraft manager.

A post issued on the U.S. Air Force Thunderbird’s Facebook page reads: “The United States Air Force Thunderbirds were conducting a single-ship familiarization flight on Friday June 23, 2017. Upon landing there was a mishap at the Dayton International Airport with an F-16D Fighting Falcon at approximately 12:20 p.m. Emergency services are on the scene. We will provide more information as it becomes available.”

The crash comes just over a year after another Thunderbird F-16C crashed just before landing in Colorado Springs, Colorado: in that case the accident happened after a Thunderbird flyover for the Air Force Academy graduation on Jun. 2, 2016, during which, the pilot, Maj. Alex Turner, encountered a throttle malfunction and successfully ejected from the jet, avoiding any loss of life or damage to civilian property.

The vertical stabilizer of that aircraft was then saved by Airmen from the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard (COANG), on Mar. 14 at Peterson Air Force Base (AFB).

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Photo credit: WHIO-TV via Facebook

Artwork courtesy of

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.
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