South Florida Air Force Pilot Injured In ‘Mishap’ During Air Show Practice

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DAYTON (CBSMiami) – Emergency response personnel rushed to a runway at the Dayton International Airport in Ohio after a “mishap” involving a fighter jet practicing for an air show.

One of the two on board was South Florida native Capt. Erik Gonsalves, who was piloting the plane.

“The accident involved one of the aircraft, one of the performing aircraft that was going to be in the air show this weekend,” said City of Dayton Director of Aviation Terrence Slaybaugh.

The world-famous U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are known for their flying performances and precision. They were set to perform at the Vectren Dayton Air Show and were doing a familiarization flight when the incident happened upon landing.

The Air Force said the plane sustained damage and Gonsalves and his passenger, a tactical aircraft maintainer, were taken to a local hospital and were listed in good condition.

“Our first priority right now is just making sure that Capt. Speedy Gonsalves and Kenneth Cordova are safe and healthy and beyond that priority, after we’ve satisfied that, we want to take care of our team to make sure they’re ready to conduct a mission again,” said Thunderbirds Commander/Leader Lt. Col. Jason Heard.

According to Gonsalves’ bio, he entered the Air Force in 2008. He flies jet #8, an F-16D Fighting Falcon, in the squadron. He’s from Fort Lauderdale and, according to his Facebook page, he graduated from Archbishop McCarthy High School. He has logged more than 1,600 flight hours as an Air Force pilot.

“All pilots, especially Air Force pilots are highly qualified and trained to make these types of decisions.  We land in rain all the time,” said Lt. Col. Heard.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

The Dayton Air Show is expected to go on as scheduled but the last update from the Thunderbirds stated that their performance in the air show is to be determined.