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ONLY ON 13: Thunderbird pilot talks about 2016 crash

ONLY ON 13: Thunderbird pilot talks...

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. - It's a day that rocked Colorado Springs, many people dialing 911 calls frantically that a Thunderbird crashed following the flyover at the Air Force Academy graduation. 

Emergency personnel responding to Powers and Fontaine, where the F-16 crash landed on June 2, 2016. 

"The first feeling when that happened was confusion of how could this happen? How did that happen?," Major Alex Turner said. 

Turner was flying the opposing solo position, the No. 6 jet during the 2016 season. 

Turner said his jet performed perfectly through the entire flyover and following show. It was when the team went to land at Peterson Air Force Base that Turner noticed something not right. 

"In my mind I'm watching Thunderbird 5 land and go, 'I want to slow down just a little bit' and as I bring the power back I don't feel the normal smooth travel that I do and I feel something that's not right," Turner said. 

Turner's biggest fear as a pilot became a reality in that moment. 

"There is a couple seconds of just disbelief. You know, of is this happening right now? And you look at the engine stack and you see that your worst fear, that your worst suspicion is confirmed where you see the RPM and the temperature start winding back," Turner said. 

He realized his engine shut off, he began to take action. 

"Your mind goes to the most important decision right there which is, 'Am I going to get the engine back or not?," Turner said. 

Turner believes there's a very slim chance of his engine restarting, but tries anyway. Meanwhile he's also looking for a place to set down his jet. 

Which is not a simple task, with his engine off, his jet is simply a glider. 

"I start a right turn to avoid the area I saw in front of me. But also back towards the runway in worst case that it does come back at the last minute, it kicks to life and I've got enough thrust then maybe I can save the aircraft," Turner said. 

At this point in the events, Turner was lower than he was supposed to be to eject, but the decision became clear to Turner: get out. 

"Initially when I ejected I didn't have my eyes open, I don't know why, I got in the right body position, and ejected, closed my eyes, said a little prayer in there, and then shortly found myself under canopy and pretty low to the ground," Turner said. 

KRDO NewsChannel 13's Colleen Sikora asked Turner, "Was there ever a point that you were concerned you wouldn't walk away?" 

"No," Turner said. 

"Why not?," Colleen said. 

"Because I had faith in the team," Turner said. "You have complete trust in all the airmen here that they're doing it right so there was never a second guess on the decision to eject or parachute wouldn't work. Not one." 

Turner credits his successful crash landing not only to the team, but also to the training he received throughout his time in the Air Force to being alive today. 

"All of that training, all of that time and effort that they put into me and that I hopefully well reciprocated to them in being a good student of what they had to teach came together to save my life and the life potentially other folk's lives out there," Turner said. 

Turner said the decision to fly again wasn't simple for him. 

"There were a lot of conversations that I had with my wife about how she felt about me getting back into the aircraft, because she went through a lot through this as well obviously," Turner said. "I never would have gotten back in the cockpit, if we, as a family, weren't OK with that." 

Turner said he was excited to come fly in Colorado Springs again, as the people here, have a special place in his heart. 

"A personal thank you to the people of Colorado Springs, for their support, for their prayers, for reaching out through what was a very difficult time for me, my family and for this team. Your support through all of that very much helped carry us through all of that," Turner said. 

 

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