A Navy Blue Angels pilot was killed Thursday when his jet crashed inSmyrna, Tennessee.Meanwhile, a USAF Thunderbirds pilot ejected safely from his F-16 after a flyover performance at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. NewsChannel 5 in Nashville identified the Blue Angels pilot asCaptain Jeff Kuss, a member of the team since 2014 and a decorated serviceman. The Navy said all six F-18s were practicing for an upcoming airshow at Smyrna’s airport when Kuss’ jet crashed soon after takeoff about 3 p.m. The other aircraft landed immediately, the station reported. Witnesses in the area captured images of a fireball and black smoke billowing from the ground.
The Thunderbird crashed in an open area near the Air Force academy after the annual graduation ceremony, which was attended by President Barack Obama. The Thunderbirds are saying their pilot, who was flying the No. 6 jet, was unhurt. The mishap occurred around midday Colorado time. The Thunderbirds Web site identifies the No. 6 pilot as Maj. Alex Turner, of Chelmsford, MA. The No. 6 jet is the opposing solo. Turner is an F-16 instructor with more than 270 hours of combat experience in Libya and Iraq.Twitter images show the aircraft lying intact in an open area, reported to be south of the Colorado Springs Airport. Obama, who delivered the commencement address to the Academy graduates, is said to be planning to meet with the pilot. The pilot was taken to hospital for evaluation but early reports said he was seen “walking around unhurt” after his parachute landing.