COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KXRM) — The June crash of an F-16 Thunderbird in southern Colorado Springs was caused by a throttle trigger malfunction, according to the Air Force.
The crash happened around 1 p.m. June 2, as the Thunderbirds were returning to the airport after performing an air show at the Air Force Academy graduation ceremony. The plane went down in a grassy area just east of Powers Boulevard near Fontaine Boulevard. The pilot, Maj. Alex Turner, ejected safely and landed about a half mile from the plane. He sustained minor injuries.
The Air Force said Wednesday that the crash was caused by a “throttle trigger malfunction and inadvertent throttle rotation.”
“After beginning landing procedures, the pilot inadvertently rotated the throttle, placing it into an engine cut-off position,” the Air Force said in a statement. “Normally, this full rotation cannot occur unless a throttle trigger is affirmatively actuated or pressed. However, the throttle trigger was ‘stuck’ in the ‘pressed’ position. The accident investigation board observed debris accumulation in the throttle trigger, combined with wear on the trigger assembly.”
Once the engine cut off, the plane immediately lost thrust. Investigators said Turner tried to restart the engine, but couldn’t due to the plane’s low altitude.
Turner navigated the plane to a grassy field, away from homes, before ejecting.
Investigators said the $29 million plane was destroyed. No other property was damaged.
At the time of the accident, Turner had more than 1,200 hours flying the F-16 and a total flight time of 1,447 hours, according to investigators. He has resumed demonstrations with the Thunderbirds.