Pilot in Thunderbirds continues to improve

U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Captain Erik Gonsalves

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds team posted an update on their Facebook page Tuesday night about the two team members involved in the crash at the Dayton air show Friday.

READ MORE: Thunderbirds will not fly in Dayton Air Show

Staff Sgt. Kenneth Cordova

In the post, “Boss” said Staff Sergeant Kenneth Cordova is doing well. Cordova is uninjured and led the team in their launch from Dayton Monday.

Captain Erik Gonsalves is still in the hospital but continues to improve. There has been no word on when he will be released.


An F-16D crashed at the end of a runway Friday after a gust of wind rolled the plane over. Two people were inside at the time, Capt. Gonsalves was the pilot and SSgt. Kenneth Cordova, a tactical aircraft maintainer, were conducting a

Captain Erik Gonsalves

“familiarization” flight ahead of the weekend’s air show. Gonsalves was trapped in the plane for a time while crews worked to free him.

The Thunderbirds team did not fly the Dayton air show as planned.  The team has since restarted practice and will next perform in Traverse City, Michigan.

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