The U.S. Navy announced Thursday that a Blue Angels pilot, later identified as 32-year-old Marine Corps Captain Jeff Kuss, died when his plane crashed during a practice routine in Tennessee preparing for a weekend air show. That performance has now been cancelled.
Kuss along with Marine Corps Captain Corrie Mays visited Peachtree City back in Nov. 2014, flying Blue Angel 7, a tw0-seater version of the F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet used by the demonstration squadron. The purpose of their mission was to scope out the area and Falcon Field Airport in advance of The Great Georgia Air Show, which took place there last October. Kuss was also in Peachtree City for the air show.
Following is a press release from the U.S. Navy concerning the fatal crash:
A U.S. Navy F/A-18 aircraft assigned to the Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, crashed today during the beginning stages of an afternoon practice at the Smyrna, Tennessee, Airport at approximately 3:01 p.m., CDT.
The pilot of the jet was taking off to start the afternoon practice when the mishap occurred. The pilot died from injuries sustained during the crash.
The name of the pilot and side number of the aircraft will not be released until 24 hours after the next-of-kin notifications have been completed.
The other five Blue Angel jets were not involved in the incident and landed safely moments later.
The crash occurred approximately two miles from the runway.
The Navy will conduct an investigation into the cause of the crash.
The Blue Angels will not participate in the air show this weekend.
The Navy is deeply saddened by the loss of this service member. We extend our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the family of the pilot and those he served with.