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Pilot Identified In Fatal Blue Angels Jet Crash In Tennessee

The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron was practicing for the Great Tennessee Air Show in Smyrna.

Originally posted on
Updated on

No one else was injured, though the crash and downed power lines caused several small fires.

"It's a sad day in Smyrna," Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess told reporters.

A spokesman for the U.S. Navy told BuzzFeed News the F/A-18 Hornet crashed about two miles from the runway, just after take-off at 3:01 p.m. local time. An investigation will be carried out to determine the cause of the crash.

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Kuss was from Durango, Colorado and had joined the Blue Angels in September 2014. According to the Navy, he earned the Strike Flight Air Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and other personal and unit awards.

Before becoming a demonstration pilot with the Blue Angels, he had deployed aboard the USS Harry Truman as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Over his career, he made 175 arrested landings onto an aircraft carrier. He also accumulated more than 1,400 flight hours.

The Blue Angels were in the area for the Great Tennessee Air Show this weekend.

Did anybody see the #BlueAngels in #Nashville today? 📷 by @nashvilleryan #instagramtennessee #tennessee #downtown

Navy officials said they will not perform at the show as scheduled:

"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."

On Thursday, the pilots had been working on practice flights at the Smyrna airport.

In Smyrna, setting up for C&As and a #BlueAngelsPractice at 3:00 p.m.! #GTAS @greattnairshow

Five other pilots were not involved in the crash, and landed safely immediately after.

In an unrelated incident earlier in the day, a U.S. Air Force Thunderbird crashed in Colorado after flying over an academy's commencement.

Claudia Koerner is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Claudia Koerner at claudia.koerner@buzzfeed.com.

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