Air Force jet crashes at graduation ceremony, then Blue Angels pilot killed carrying out heroic act

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Two military precision flight teams sustained crashes Thursday. In one, the pilot was able to bail out to safety; the other resulted in a fatality accompanied by a monumental display of self-sacrifice and heroism, the hallmark of the American military.

Shortly after take-off, a Navy Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornet crashed at about 3 p.m. during a practice run at Smyrna, Tennessee, southeast of Nashville.

The crash took its aviator, Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss with it, according to The Associated Press. Kuss, a Blue Angels team member since September, 2014, leaves behind a wife and two children.

The crash occurred two miles from the runway from which the team had taken off, and and less than 100 yards from an apartment building.

No civilians were killed, and yet it happened less than 100 yards from an apartment building.

Kuss hails from Durango, Colorado and has accumulated in excess of 1,400 flight hours and 175 carrier-arrested landings.

Nashville ABC affiliate WKRN Channel 2 News reported:

His decorations include the Strike Flight Air Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various personal and unit awards.

The other five Blue Angel jets were not involved in the incident and landed safely moments later.

 

The Blue Angels was practicing for the Great Tennessee Airshow to be held this weekend at Smyrna airport. The team has pulled out of the event due to the loss of their squadron member.

The Blue Angels also cancelled a previously-scheduled lecture Friday at Middle Tennessee State University.

Clip via WKRN.

Ironically, Thursday saw another crash of yet another precision military flight team.

After the Air Force Thunderbirds made a flyover at the Air Force Academy graduation ceremony and was returning to Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, one of the jets, piloted by Maj. Alex Turner, crashed.

The accident posed no risk to human life, however, so Turner was able to safely bail out.

A vigil was held across the street from the Smyrna airport Thursday night, with hundreds in attendance, many bringing candles and flags to show their support. To honor Kuss, the Blue Angels’ sixth team member, the attendees observed six minutes of silence.

Adding to the irony, Turner, like Blue Angel Kuss, piloted the number-six aircraft on his team.

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Clip via WKRN.

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