Thursday, June 2, 2016

McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18C Hornet, United States Navy Blue Angels: Fatal accident occurred June 02, 2016 near Smyrna Airport (KMQY), Rutherford County, Tennessee

Kathryn's Report:

The Navy says a Blue Angels F/A-18 fighter jet has crashed and killed a pilot near Nashville, Tennessee.

Key developments: 

Official identifies the pilot killed in Blue Angels jet crash as Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss

Kuss flew in Seattle Seafair last year
The Tenn. crash happened around 1 p.m. PST
No civilians were hurt on the ground
The five other pilots landed safely

Kuss, 32, was the pilot of plane No. 6. 

The Navy says the pilot was beginning to take off during an afternoon practice session when the crash happened. Five other F/A-18 jets landed safely moments later.

Witnesses took to social media to share pictures of a fireball and a thick black plume of smoke from the crash. Images shows residential fences near the wreckage.

The Blue Angels are scheduled to fly 66 demonstrations at 34 locations throughout the nation this year, including Seattle. 

The elite acrobatics team was scheduled to perform The Great Tennessee Air Show this weekend.

In the Blue Angels' 70th anniversary year, Thursday's crash makes the 27th Blue Angels fatality since their inception in 1946. 

The last Blue Angels crash was in 2007 — and before that in 1999. No crashes have ever happened during Seattle's summer Seafair.  

Captain Jeff Kuss flew during in Seattle last year during the Seafair Festival, where the Blue Angels show has been a staple of the celebration for six decades.

“Everyone is here for a common goal, and discipline, and we like to display that across the country in form of a flight demonstration,” he told KIRO 7 News in 2015. 

Kuss took anchor John Knicely along for a ride in 2015.

During the flight, they talked about his love for the Blue Angels and how it was an honor for him to fly with the team.

Kuss told Knicely he had flown multiple combat missions overseas. 

Kuss joined the Blues in September 2014 with more than 1,400 flight hours to his name.

The Blue Angels show is considered the most impressive demonstration at the Boeing Seafair Air Show. See photos from the 2015 show here.

The Blue Angels first flew at Seafair in 1952.

In 1994 and 1995 the Blue Angels didn’t fly at Seafair because they didn’t get a safety rule waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration. That waiver was typically given so they could fly over boats on the log boom, but was not granted in ’94 and ’95 because of safety concerns. The waiver was granted again for the 1996 Seafair festival after dozens of complaint calls to the mayor’s office and FAA.  

Second separate crash of the day for performance teams

This is the second fighter jet crash of the day for the military's elite fighter jet performance teams. 

An Air Force Thunderbird F-16 crashed earlier Thursday in a field near Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, just after ceremonies at the nearby academy where President Obama delivered the commencement address.

The pilot ejected safely and is walking around, not hurt, according to a U.S. Air Force tweet.

Story and video:

Here is a statement just released from the Commander of Naval Air Forces


Blue Angel F/A-18 Crashes During Air Show Practice

Smyrna, TN - 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, Tenn., 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 name of the pilot is being withheld pending next-of-kin notification requirements.

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 Great Tennessee Air Show:

SMYRNA, Tenn. (WKRN) – A pilot was killed after a U.S. Navy Blue Angels jet crashed Thursday afternoon in Smyrna ahead of their weekend airshow at the city’s airport.

The F/A-18 aircraft crashed at 3 p.m. near Weakly Lane, about 2.5 miles from the Nissan manufacturing plant, while practicing for the demonstration.

The U.S. Navy confirmed the pilot died in the crash. The name of the pilot is being withheld pending next-of-kin notification requirements.

The other five Blue Angel jets were not involved in the incident and landed safely moments later.

News 2 spoke with witness Paula Payne who said the jet sounded louder than normal shorty before the crash.

“I looked out the window and heard the planes maneuvering again. I looked out the window and saw one straight out here come down, hit the ground, and explode,” she said.

Becca Burgess said she had been hearing the jets all day and noticed one was flying particularly low.

“I looked up and saw it coming down and I thought maybe they were doing dips … Then I saw a huge ball of orange fire, and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, he’s crashed,’” she explained. “I cried. I mean, the first thought was fear for the pilot.”

The Smyrna Police Department is assisting but is yielding the investigation to the Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. military.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol also responded to the scene to help direct traffic in the area.

Around 1,300 people were without power after the jet reportedly clipped some power lines during the crash, but it was restored about an hour later.

Further details weren’t immediately known.

News 2 learned Hunter Hayes was set to fly with the Blue Angels on Friday. His publicist said the crash happened right in front of them, but he was not injured.

Our own Samantha Fisher flew with the flight team on Wednesday ahead of their performance at the Great Tennessee Airshow on June 4 and 5. It’s unclear if the crash will affect the show.

Story and video:

SMYRNA — U.S. Navy officials have confirmed the pilot of a Blue Angels jet was killed in a crash about 3 p.m. today.

Steve Fiebing, deputy public affairs officer for the Naval Air Forces, said the jet crashed at 3:01 p.m. He said the Naval Air Forces would investigate.

The pilot has not been publicly identified.

Witnesses said all other Blue Angels aircraft landed and were on the ground. The military flight demonstration unit was in Smyrna for the Great Tennessee Airshow on Saturday and Sunday.

A fireball and thick black plume of smoke from the crash could be seen just beyond the runway at Smyrna Airport and from Interstate 24.

Helicopters circled the area and first responders cordoned off nearby areas. Bright yellow police tape kept residents of the nearby Fairway Meadows Apartment complex, at 93 Weakley Lane, at a safe distance.

Jennifer Elliott was in her yard watching the Blue Angels practice. She went inside just before the crash and said she felt the explosion at their house, which is about a mile from the Smyrna airport.

”It sounded like car crashed into my house,” she said. “Everything shook.”

Minutes later, she said she could hear sirens and the other Blue Angels team were circling over the smoke.

Rebecca Durand was in her car with her son Jordan when they saw the jet go down. Durand said she saw the nose of the jet come straight down. She thought it was a stunt.

"Instead, I just saw this big orange explosion," she said.

"Just like in the movies," Jordan Durand said.

The crash occurred the same day as another military performance plane, a U.S. Air Force Thunderbird, crashed near Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado after a flyover during a graduation ceremony.

The six jets of the Blue Angels roared over downtown Nashville earlier Thursday. The Blue Angels are scheduled to fly 66 demonstrations at 34 locations throughout the nation this year, which is the team's 70th anniversary year. The mission of the unit is to showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps through flight demonstrations and community outreach.

It’s still unclear how many times Blue Angels have crashed in the team's history.

Media reports indicate the last fatal crash involving the Blue Angels was a 2007 crash in South Carolina. The pilot flew too low and tried to make a turn while traveling too fast, leading to the fatal crash, according to The Virginian Pilot.

At the time, The Associated Press reported the crash was the 26th fatality in Blue Angel’s history.

In order to fly Blue Angels jet, Navy and Marine pilots must have aircraft carrier qualifications and a minimum of 1,250 tactical jet-flight hours, according the team’s website. Pilots typically serve two years before returning to their units.

Since 1946, the Blue Angels have performed for more than 484 million fans, according to the team’s website.

Story and video:

The pilot of a US Navy Blue Angel F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet was killed Thursday when the aircraft crashed in central Tennessee, a Navy official confirmed to Fox News.

The crash involving the jet happened after 3 p.m. southeast of Nashville in the town of Smyrna, a Rutherford County dispatcher told Fox 17.

La Vergne, Tenn. Fire Chief Rick McCormick told Fox News that the jet crashed off airport property just after takeoff.

He added that the jet did not crash into buildings off the runway. 

Commander Jeannie Grenaveld, a spokeswoman for Naval Air Forces, told Fox News the crash happened during a practice flight for the Great Tennessee Airshow in Smyrna. The Blue Angels are performing June 4 and 5 at the airport.

Becca Cullision-Burgess told Fox 17 she was in her shop "My Southern Charm" when she saw the crash.

"I've never seen such a big ball or orange fire before," she said.

The Blue Angels flew over downtown Nashville earlier in the day.

Earlier Thursday, an Air Force Thunderbird jet crashed south of Colorado Springs, Colo. just after a flyover for a graduation of Air Force Academy cadets where President Obama had spoken.

Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Michal Kloeffler-Howard said the pilot safely ejected from the jet.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the president thanked the pilot for his service and expressed his relief that he wasn't seriously injured

The F-16 crashed in a field near Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs just after ceremonies at the nearby academy where Obama delivered the commencement address.

Authorities say no one on the ground was injured in the Colorado incident.

Original article can be found here:

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