Air Force Thunderbird Crashed While Waiting for Obama Speech-Reported as Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
An Air Force Thunderbird that crashed during the 2016 Air Force Academy graduation ceremony ran out of gas while waiting for President Obama to deliver a speech.
An Air Force Thunderbird crashed after doing a flyover at the 2016 Air Force Academy graduation ceremony in which President Obama delivered the commencement speech.
But there’s no indication that the Thunderbird crashed because it ran out of gas, or because its pilot was waiting for Obama to deliver a speech.
The crash occurred shortly after the Thunderbird did multiple flyovers as the June 2nd graduation ceremony came to an end. While the Air Force has not released information about what caused the Thunderbird to crash, there are a number of major problems that the Thunderbird crashed because it ran out of gas while waiting for Obama to deliver a speech.
First, the Thunderbird that crashed was flying in formation with five other Thunderbirds that day. It doesn’t make sense that one of the Thunderbirds would have run out of gas given that the planes are identical and take off and fly in formation while performing aerial stunts.
Second, the theory that the Thunderbird ran out of gas does not match witness reports. An Air Force staff sergeant reported hearing “a few loud bangs” before the plane went down, the military publication Stars and Stripes reports:
Air Force Staff Sgt. Alexander Rodriguez, a U.S. Air Force firefighter stationed in San Angelo, Texas, who was visiting with his family, said he raced from his brother’s house after hearing “a few loud bangs” and saw the plane gliding close to the ground before impact.
“I started booking straight for the aircraft,” Rodriguez said. “I saw the cockpit was empty and checked for any fuel hazard — there was a single fuel leak on the right side. I heard a ticking noise that indicated something was still running and I backed off.”
That witness report doesn’t seem to indicate that the plane ran out of fuel.
And given that the Air Force Thunderbird perform more than 40 shows a year that require them to fly in tight formations while doing aerial stunts, crashes have been known to happen. The Associated Press reported on a similar crash in 2005:
The Thunderbirds are the Air Force’s precision flying team, known for their red, white and blue painted F-16 fighter jets. The unit, based out of Nevada’s Nellis Air Force Base, will perform more than 40 shows in 2016, according to its website. The vaunted aerial demonstration team has been performing air demonstrations since 1947.
During a performance at the Chicago Air and Water Show in 2005, two of the jets made contact while they were flying in formation, and a missile rail was dislodged. No one was injured in that accident.
The group was in a diamond formation when a 4-foot-long missile rail came loose from the wing of one of their jets. The carbon fiber object fell into Lake Michigan, roughly 2,500 feet from where spectators had gathered to watch the show. No one was hurt.
There’s no indication that the Thunderbird ran out of gas, or that the pilot was waiting for Obama to deliver his commencement address. That’s why we’re reporting this one as fiction.