COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS/AP) – A Thunderbird pilot from Chelmsford is safe after his F-16 jet crashed during a flyover at the Air Force Academy graduation Thursday afternoon.
Major Alex Turner was able to parachute to safety before his Thunderbird crashed in a field.READ MORE: Eviction Moratorium Ends: Where Renters Can Find Help In Massachusetts
President Barack Obama, who delivered the commencement address at the academy, met with Turner shortly after the crash. White House spokesman Josh Earnest says the president thanked the pilot for his service and expressed his relief that he wasn’t seriously injured.
The F-16 crashed in a field near Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs just after the ceremony. Authorities say no one on the ground was injured.
Fear and anxiety overcame Ann and Peter Turner when they learned their son was in a crash.
“I could barely catch my breath,” Ann Turner told WBZ. “My stomach just dropped. My heart was pounding and I just broke down.”
The Air Force says Turner likely intentionally guided the jet to the field and then the 33-year-old from Chelmsford ejected.
“He just followed the book and did what he was supposed to do and it worked out fine,” Peter said.READ MORE: Woman's Claims In Lawsuit Her 14-Year-Old Daughter Was Sexually Violated During Logan Airport Searches
The Turners say Alex had an early enthusiasm for jets and quickly decided to follow in his dad’s Air Force footsteps.
“I remember when Top Gun first came out, he was going to be a Naval aviator,” Ann recalled. “And Peter was like, ‘I don’t think so. If you’re going to fly you’ll be in the Air Force.’”
“He loves what he’s doing and he’s proud to do it,” Ann said.
Despite the happy outcome and even a face to face with President Obama, Ann says she needs the ultimate relief.
“I’ve seen the pictures and he’s OK but, I need to give him a hug.”
Turner has logged more than 1,200 hours as an Air Force pilot and flew more than 270 combat hours in Libya and Iraq.
Just hours after the crash in Colorado, a pilot was killed when his Blue Angels fighter jet crashed in Tennessee. No civilians were hurt on the ground.MORE NEWS: Bird Feeders, Baths Still Discouraged In Massachusetts, But 'No Large-Scale Mortality Events' Reported
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