Thunderbird crash in 72
The pilot was Major Joseph C. Howard. He attended NC State 1958-1962. I attended school with him 12 years in Ahoskie NC and 4 years at NC State. I spoke with him briefly by phone the Sunday morning of accident. The Air Force never makes public the cause of any crash. The F-4 had problems before it reached field on that run and flew over the crowd at Dulles, travelling NE to SW. The crash made the evening news on Washington DC TV and it showed Joe successfully maneuvered the plane away from the crowd, successfully ejected but at such a low altitude the fire and heat from the crash drew his parachute up and over into the flames. I will say the man I spoke to at Dulles the day before.(Sat) was not a candidate for a heart attack and a pilot who had flown well over 100 missions in Vietnam (69 over the North), surviving being shot down over the south China Sea, would hardly be a candidate for pilot error.
If you ever get to Nellis Air Force Base, the headquarters Building is Howard Hall. If there had been any hint of pilot error , I'm sure the Air Force would not have honored his memory with such a tribute.