Home » Aviation » UPDATED: Blue Angels F/A-18 Crashes During Practice Run, Pilot Killed


UPDATED: Blue Angels F/A-18 Crashes During Practice Run, Pilot Killed

US Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels F/A-18 flown by Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss. on Jan. 16, 2016.

US Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels F/A-18 flown by Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss on Jan. 16, 2016. US Navy Photo

An F/A-18 Hornet from the U.S. Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team has crashed in Tennessee and the pilot is dead, Navy officials confirmed to USNI News on Thursday.
“It is with great sadness that I can confirm the pilot died in the crash,” Cmdr. Jeannie Groeneveld a spokeswoman for commander, Naval Air Forces told USNI News.

The plane crashed at 4:01 p.m. EST near the town of Smyrna. According to Groeneveld, “the pilot of the jet was taking off to start the afternoon practice when the mishap occurred. The other five Blue Angel jets were not involved in the incident and landed safely moments later,” she said.
“The crash occurred approximately two miles from the runway.”

The Associated Press identified the dead pilot as Marine aviator, Capt. Jeff Kuss, who flew the #6 aircraft.

Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss in 2014. Blues Angels Photo

Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss in 2014. Blues Angels Photo

According to his Blue Angels bio, Kuss was from Durango, Colo., and was previously assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 “Checkerboards”(VMFA-312) Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C. before joining the team in 2015.

A photo published by local television station WKRN near the crash shows a plume of black smoke from the site and four Blue Angels F/A-18s flying in formation.

The Navy is now investigating the cause of the crash.

Earlier today, a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon with the Thunderbirds flight demonstration team crashed near Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Both the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels fly some of the oldest aircraft in the U.S. inventory with the military’s most talented pilots.

The Blue Angels were set to perform at the Great Tennessee Air Show at the Smyrna airport on June 4th and 5th and had advertised their practice on their social media accounts. The show was canceled.

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Categories: Aviation, Budget Industry, News & Analysis, U.S. Navy
Sam LaGrone

About Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He was formerly the U.S. Maritime Correspondent for the Washington D.C. bureau of Jane’s Defence Weekly and Jane’s Navy International. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.

  • Eric Arllen

    Eternal Father, Strong to Save……..

  • Vanessa West

    So sad 🙁

  • Curtis Conway

    It appears he stayed with the jet so it would not continue into the neighborhoods beyond.

    • Chris

      Yep, huge sacrifice!

  • Jackov

    Replace the FA-18 fleet with the F-35 JSF.

  • will_ford

    May he and His family be blessed. Sorry for your loss. thanks for Your Service Sir.

  • Ivanhoe2

    I or we lost the most dearest family member in a similar tragic crash back decades ago during the height of the Indochina War and it is my opinion that the possible underlying reason may have been do to that he was flying in a worn out USAF Phantom or one with worn out parts or whatever…Not shot down but he died in the service of his country the USA and NATO nations and the English people below his aircraft somewhere in the fog…Gone but never forgotten and always missed. What a Reunion it will be when we all get together in the God of the Bibles, Heaven for Christians and Jews. My sincere condolences to the family of this brave and selfless American Naval Aviator who gave his life that others may live down below his planes glide path! Capt. Jeff Kuss, now you are an Angel of God! High Flight!

  • seems like he could have ejected as he placed it in a large vacant lot. ..unless it went wierd attitude.. high sink rate….or??….and the seat envelope was exceeded., but he made no attempt., so he may have been fixated on putting in a safe area.

    RIP DUDE!!…