Tragedy struck the Thunderbirds in Cleveland on September 8, 1981.The team was leaving to return to Nellis
Air Force Base when Thunderbird #1 ingested numerous seagulls on take-off.The aircraft immediately lost power, caught
fire and crashed into Lake Erie.Aboard the T-38 were Thunderbirds
Commander / Leader, Lieutenant Colonel David Lawrence Smith and his Crew Chief, Staff Sergeant Dwight Roberts.Both men
ejected with Sergeant Roberts suffering minor arm and knee injuries.Lieutenant Colonel Smith, 40 years old from Rossville, Georgia, perished when his
parachute failed at low altitude.This
page is dedicated to the memory of Lieutenant Colonel Smith.
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