Blue Angel Pilot Killed In Tennessee Crash, Thunderbird Pilot Unhurt In Colorado Crash

Thursday, June 2nd 2016, 5:14 pm
By: News On 6

A pilot died when his Navy Blue Angel jet crashed during a practice flight in Tennessee on Thursday, just a short time after an Air Force pilot ejected safely from his Thunderbird jet in Colorado.

The Thunderbird F-16 crashed south of Colorado Springs just after a flyover for a graduation of Air Force Academy cadets where President Barack Obama had spoken.

Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Michal Kloeffler-Howard said Thursday the pilot ejected.

Obama was still at the graduation site at the time of the crash, taking photos with attendees prior to returning to Washington.

U.S. Air Force's Air Combat Command tweeted that the plane crashed in a field outside of Colorado Springs after the show. The pilot ejected safely and was uninjured.

U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds said on Twitter no one on the ground was injured, and there is no hazard to the public.

Later in the afternoon, a U.S. Navy Blue Angels F/A-18 jet crashed in Smyrna, Tennessee, killing the pilot.

The Associated Press identified him as Marine Corps Captain Jeff Kuss, a native of Durango, Colorado. Kuss flew the number 6 jet which is called Opposing Solo by the Blue Angels. During their airshow performances, four of the jets perform together, while the number 5 and 6 jets complete maneuvers individually and together. For the finale, the number 5 and 6 jets join up with the other four and all six jets fly maneuvers together.

The Thunderbirds and Blue Angels perform at airshows every weekend at different locations around the U.S. Neither the teams nor the Air Force or Navy have made any announcement about the status of their upcoming appearances.

The Thunderbirds are scheduled to perform this weekend at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque. They're also scheduled to perform on July 23, 2016 at Vance Air Force Base, near Enid.

The Blue Angels were practicing for a show in Smyrna, Tennessee this weekend when today's crash happened. The team is not scheduled to perform in Oklahoma this year.

The pilot who flies the number 4 Blue Angels jet, called the slot, is Lt. Andy Talbott. We caught up with him in December when he and three other members of the team visited his home town of Sedan, Kansas. 

12/7/2015: Related Story: Four Navy Blue Angels Visit Bartlesville And Sedan, Kansas