Memorial To Honor Blue Angel Pilot Nears Completion, Public Dedication

posted in: Miscellaneous | 0

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

posted in: Jet Teams, Miscellaneous | 0

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

posted in: Miscellaneous, Popular Posts | 2
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

Blue Angels To Stand Down Following Crash, But The Great Tennessee Airshow Will Be Held

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams | 0

US Navy Blue Angel - Great Tennessee Airshow 2016

The 2016 Great Tennessee Airshow in Smyrna, TN will go on this weekend as scheduled following yesterday’s fatal Blue Angel crash during practice. The Blue Angels will obviously not be performing as they mourn their teammate and observe a safety stand down to investigate the incident.

Airshows are massive investments and canceling at the last minute would likely ruin the show organization permanently. Organizers say they consulted with the Blue Angels and other performers before making the decision. The show will still feature the USAF F-22 Raptor and the Breitling Jet Team, along with other performers. The full statement from the airshow is below.

The Blue Angels will likely take a period of time off from performing in order to process the loss and investigate what happened. After the last fatal Blue Angels crash in 2007, which claimed the life of Lieutenant Commander Kevin “Kojak” Davis, the team took several weeks off from shows to regroup.

They recalled a former pilot to rejoin the team, and practiced extensively in order to get him up to speed. In the mean time, they performed a five-ship routine at airshows. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, we anticipate they will likely follow the same course of action this year.

Full statement from The Great Tennessee Airshow:

Smyrna, Tenn. (June 2, 2016) — The Great Tennessee Air Show will proceed as scheduled on Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5.

“Our hearts are deeply saddened by today’s tragic and devastating accident,” said John Black, Executive Director of the Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport. “Show management has discussed the relative advantages and disadvantages of continuing the show. After close consultation with the Blue Angels, regulatory officials and the performers, we have made the decision to carry on with this weekend’s show.”

Due to today’s incident, the Blue Angels will not be performing this weekend.

Blue Angel 6 Killed In Crash During Smyrna, TN Practice

posted in: Jet Teams | 67
Captain Jeff Kuss - Blue Angel 6
Captain Jeff Kuss climbs skyward in Blue Angel 6 just weeks ago.
Taken at the 2016 Spirit of St Louis Airshow and STEM Expo, presented by Boeing

We are sad to report that Captain Jeff Kuss, Blue Angel 6, has been killed in a crash today at the Great Tennessee Airshow in Smyrna, TN. He was performing as part of a practice routine for this weekend’s airshow. Eyewitness accounts say the aircraft impacted the ground at a nearby golf course while attempting a Split-S maneuver after takeoff, as is normal for #6. A large fireball and smoke cloud were seen, and rescue personnel responded. The other Blue Angels landed safely.

Captain Jeff Kuss - Blue Angel 6

According to his bio on the Blue Angels website, Kuss was a native of Durango, CO and was commissioned as an officer in the Marine Corps in 2006. He joined the Blue Angels in 2014 and served as the team’s narrator during the 2015 season before transitioning to Opposing Solo for the 2016 season.

Please note that this incident is unrelated to the USAF Thunderbirds incident in Colorado today.

Our thoughts are with Capt. Kuss’ family, friends, and shipmates during this horrible time.

UPDATE: One of our photographers gathered this footage of various tributes to Captain Kuss in the days following the crash.