A Blue Angels pilot is dead after one of two separate crashes involving elite military demonstration jets. The Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornet went down shortly after taking off to start an afternoon practice session the Great Tennessee Airshow near the town of Smyrna in central Tennessee.
The pilot was later identified as Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss. He is survived by his wife, Christina, and two children. No one on the ground or any of the other pilots in the exercise were hurt. Before yesterday, the last fatality in a Blue Angels crash was in 2007 at an air show in South Carolina. While the Great Tennessee Air Show will go on as scheduled this weekend, the Navy has confirmed that the Blue Angels will not take part.
But this wasn’t the only such incident. Earlier in the day, an Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 fighter jet crashed near Colorado Springs. That pilot – identified as Major Alex Turner – safely ejected and was not hurt. The Thunderbirds had just performed at the Air Force Academy graduation before the crash. Following that crash, President Obama, who was in town to deliver the commencement address at the Air Force Academy, visited with the pilot and thanked him for his service to the country.