It's a longstanding tradition for the Air Force Thunderbirds to do a dramatic flyover at the moment the Air Force Academy graduation concludes. You can see them in the skies, practicing in the days preceding graduation. Every year, there's a Very Important Person on hand to deliver the commencement speech. And when I say Very Important, I mean VERY important. This year it was President Obama. The speech is delivered, the cadets graduate, then on cue they all fling their hats skyward as the Thunderbirds go screaming by overhead. It's spectactular, thrilling and utterly unforgettable. This year was no different, with one notable exception: after the flyover and subsequent air show, the T-Birds were heading back to Peterson Air Force Base when one of the pilots got into trouble and had to eject from his jet moments before it crashed into a field near the intersection of Powers and Fontaine. That certainly made the news! The pilot was fine. In fact, he was picked up by a helicopter forthwith and flown to Peterson, where he met the president! Coincidentally, about an hour later, a Navy Blue Angel also crashed, near Nashville, Tennessee while practicing for an air show. Sadly, its pilot was killed.
Of course, all of this has been a big topic of conversation around here. My friends have been posting blurry cell phone pictures of the jet, still lying there in the field since the crash last Thursday. Pat and I thought it might be worth a try to get a picture of it for the blog, so we headed over there yesterday around noon. What perfect timing -- the jet was in the process of being removed just as we arrived! Several TV news crews were on hand, parked on the shoulder along with a dozen or so lookie-loos (ahem). We joined the crowd and I took a few pictures from the car. Fascinating!