The pilot of a US Air Force Thunderbird that crashed following a flyover met with President Barack Obama shortly after ejecting safely into a Colorado field, the AP reports. News of the crash broke while Obama's motorcade was returning to Peterson Air Force Base on Thursday for his flight back to Washington. The pilot ejected about 15 miles south of the academy, near Peterson where Air Force One was waiting to take off. The Air Force identified the pilot as Maj. Alex Turner, of Chelmsford, Massachusetts. He has more than 270 combat hours over Libya and Iraq. "The president thanked the pilot for his service to the country and expressed his relief that the pilot was not seriously injured," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
The Thunderbirds, the Air Force's precision flying team, had just finished their traditional performance at commencement for Air Force Academy cadets, screaming overhead just as the graduating officers tossed their white hats skyward. The jets then did multiple fly-bys over the academy's football stadium, where the ceremony took place, blasting by in tight formations or looping high overhead. There was no obvious sign of trouble with any of the jets during the performance before the crash. It was the second fighter jet crash of the day for the military's elite fighter jet performance teams. The Navy says a Blue Angels F/A-18 fighter jet crashed near Nashville, Tennessee, where the team was practicing for a scheduled performance this weekend. There were no details on whether that pilot was hurt. Last week, two Navy fighter jets crashed into the Atlantic.