Memorial To Honor Blue Angel Pilot Nears Completion, Public Dedication

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Blue Angels Memorial in Smyrna

The finishing touches are being put on a memorial to honor Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, who was killed when his F/A-18 Hornet crashed during a practice flight demonstration in Smyrna, Tennessee in June 2016.

Kuss, who was in his second year on the team, was loved by many. He also was popular in the media, since his position as the team’s 2015 narrator also enabled him to give rides to media, VIPs, and local influencers at each show site the Blue Angels attended.

Following the crash, the town of Smyrna wanted to honor Kuss in a special way. In May of 2017, plans were announced to build a permanent memorial for the fallen Blue Angels pilot outside the airport and adjacent to Lee Victory Recreation Park, where the town came together the night of the crash to honor Kuss. Plans for the memorial included pavers, which could be bought for a small donation, and a retired F/A-18 Hornet in Blue Angel colors.

Kuss Memorial Groundbreaking

On October 18th, 2017, groundbreaking for the memorial was held.

On Friday, the most prominent part of the memorial was installed. A retired Blue Angel jet, BuNo 163498, was lifted by crane from a flatbed trailer and into position on an elevated platform in the memorial. The aircraft is on permanent loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.

Kuss Memorial F-18 Hornet - Smyrna, TNKuss Memorial F-18 Hornet - Smyrna, TN

In a video posted by the Town of Smyrna, some F/A-18 hornets are seen flying over the Blue Angel jet. The flyover was performed by members of Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 (VMFAT-101), based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, CA. They flew in from California on Thursday, and waited until the plane was placed to do the flyover, then departed on their way to NAS Oceana, VA.

The memorial dedication will be held on June 9 at 10:00 a.m. at Lee Victory Recreation Park in Smyrna and is open the public. For those who can’t attend, the ceremony will be streamed live. Stay tuned to our social media channels for more info.

Smyrna Breaks Ground On Captain Jeff Kuss Memorial For Fallen Blue Angel Pilot

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The construction of a memorial to honor a fallen Blue Angel has begun.

Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss was killed on June 2nd, 2016 when his Blue Angels jet crashed during a Thursday afternoon practice demonstration in Tennessee. In his memory, the town of Smyrna plans to erect a permanent memorial.

The groundbreaking ceremony, held October 18th, was the first step in getting the memorial built.

As part of the memorial, a Blue Angels F/A-18C hornet will be on permanent display outside the airport adjacent to Lee Victory Recreation Park, where the community came together the night of the crash to remember Kuss.

If you want to donate, visit www.captjeffkussusmcmemorial.com. You can purchase a paver or donate money. As of late October, 78% of the money needed to build the memorial has been raised. All or part of your gift may be tax deductible as a charitable contribution.

Here’s video from the groundbreaking ceremony.

Smyrna, Tennessee Announces Memorial For Fallen Blue Angel Capt. Jeff Kuss

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Blue Angel Captain Jeff Kuss Memorial - Smyrna, TN
Photo courtesy of the town of Smyrna

The mayor of Smyrna, Tennessee announced plans today for a memorial to Blue Angels pilot Capt. Jeff “Kooch” Kuss, who was killed in a crash while preparing for the Great Tennessee Airshow in the city last June. The memorial will feature a retired F/A-18 Hornet in Blue Angel colors, on loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum in the Blue Angels’ home town of Pensacola, Florida.

Captain Jeff Kuss - Blue Angel 6

Kuss was a Captain in the US Marine Corps, and flew as Blue Angel #7 in 2015 and Blue Angel #6 in 2016. The team was flying a practice performance in Smyrna last June when Kuss attempted to perform a Split-S on takeoff. A Navy investigation into the crash found that he entered the maneuver too low and too fast, and impacted the ground near the airport. He left behind a wife and two kids. The report led to a mandatory rest period for the team every two months.

Mayor Mary Esther Reed outlined the memorial plans at a press conference that was streamed live online. She described Kuss as an American hero and explained that citizens wanted to see him honored. The city featured many impromptu tributes to him in the hours and days following the crash. Around half of the expected $1 million cost of the memorial has been raised already, but help is need to complete the project. You can donate to the memorial by visiting www.CaptJeffKussUSMCMemorial.com

Doolittle Raiders Honored With B-25, B-1 Flybys In Dayton 75 Years After Famous Mission

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B-25 Mitchells - Doolittle Raid 75th Anniversary - Dayton, OH

Eleven B-25 Mitchells roared over the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, OH on Tuesday in an incredible tribute to the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders. The flyover came 75 years to the day after the 16 B-25s and 80 airmen took off from the USS Hornet to bomb Japan. Although it inflicted little damage, the psychological effects of the raid forced a change in Japanese strategy that altered the course of the war.

B-25 Mitchells - Doolittle Raid 75th Anniversary - Dayton, OHB-25 Mitchells - Doolittle Raid 75th Anniversary - Dayton, OH

The rare warbirds are all privately owned and operated, and had gathered in nearby Urbana, OH before landing at the museum for public display. They performed a mass formation and missing man flyovers during a memorial service for the Raiders this afternoon. The only surviving member of the Raiders, Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, was in attendance.

Doolittle Raid MemorialB-1B Lancer - Doolittle Raid 75th Anniversary - Dayton, OH

Later in the ceremony, two B-1B Lancer bombers also performed a flyover. Both aircraft are from squadrons that participated in the original raid in 1942, and one of them was recently rechristened “Ruptured Duck” in tribute to one of the raid aircraft.

The NMUSAF has hosted several of the annual Doolittle Raider reunions in the past, including in 2010 and 2012.

Thank you to forum user DanODell for the photos! For more photos and videos from the event, be sure to check out the Doolittle Raider 75th Anniversary thread on our forums!

Bob Hoover Remembered With Celebration Of Life Ceremony, Triple Flyover

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R. A. "Bob" Hoover
Source: AOPA

Aviation lost one of its greats one month ago, when R.A. “Bob” Hoover passed away at the age of 94. Bob was without a doubt one of the most legendary pilots to have graced the skies. His exploits in World War II would have been enough for most pilots, but his real fame was gained following the war when he flew as a test pilot and airshow demonstration pilot. He was also an incredible human being who was renowned for his story-telling, energy, and kindness.

True to his form, the aviation community came together a few weeks after his death to celebrate his life, which a star-studded event at Van Nuys airport. Numerous speakers, many aviation legends themselves, took to the stage to share their stories of Bob and his accomplishments. The event eventually moved outside, where a military honor guard fired a gun salute and played taps as three formation of aircraft roared overhead. The first formation was led by a T-39 Sabreliner, one of the many aircraft types that will forever be linked to Hoover. It was joined by two F-16s from the US Air Force Thunderbirds and a CT-114 Tutor from the Canadian Forces Snowbirds. The second formation saw an F-22 Raptor lead a pair of F-86 Sabres, a type that Bob test flew during his career. The final formation had four warbirds; a P-40 Warhawk, an F6F Hellcat, a Spitfire, and perhaps Bob’s most famous airplane, his P-51 Mustang “Ole Yeller”. In a fitting tribute, “Ole Yeller” performed the missing man pull out of the formation as the last notes of taps faded away.

Fortunately, Bob was the subject of many documentaries and interviews during his time with us, and generations to come will have many recordings to hear his wisdom through. Although Bob is gone, he will continue to touch the lives of aviators for a long, long time.

Blue Angels Honor Capt. Kuss at First Public Display Since Crash

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Blue Angels Honor Jeff Kuss

The United States Navy Blue Angels returned to flying public demonstrations over the July 4th holiday weekend when they took to the skies over Traverse City, Michigan. Instead of the typical six jets, the Blues flew with only five jets as a new #6 pilot is still in the works.

Capt. Kuss’ memory was still shining bright as the team flew in Michigan. Upon arriving in Traverse City, the Blue Angel’s Maintenance Crew marked a spot on the ramp with silver tape, in the spot where the #6 jet would typically be parked.

Blue Angels Honor Jeff Kuss

United States Coast Guard Base Traverse City is also honoring Kuss by flying his number on their MH-65s.

Coast Guard Honors Fallen Blue Angel Capt Jeff Kuss

Candlelight Vigil To Honor Fallen Blue Angel Tonight In Pensacola

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Candlelight Vigil to Honor Blue Angel 6 Marine Capt Jeff Kuss

Thursday night, the citizens of Pensacola, FL and the surrounding area are invited to gather at Pensacola’s Veterans Memorial Park for a candlelight vigil to honor Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss. The vigil will begin at 7:30pm central daylight time.

Admiral Anderson from the Blue Angels association will start off the evening by welcoming everyone. Following the welcome, a prayer will be lead by Sr. Pastor Gordon Godfrey Jr from Marcus Pointe Baptist Church.
McGuire’s Pipe Band will be on site to provide musical honors through the event.

Mayor Hayward of Pensacola and Lt. Matt Suyderhoud, Blue Angel #2, are also expected to be in attendance.

Capt. Kuss will be honored with six minutes of silence as well, to recognize him as Blue Angel #6.

If you are unable to attend, the City of Pensacola will live stream the vigil on their Facebook page. You are also encouraged to light a candle at home, no matter where you are in the world, to show your support. We invite you to share a photo of your tribute on our Facebook page.