Pilot killed in U.S. Navy Blue Angels Jet Crash in Smyrna

Blue Angels jet crash in Smyrna, Tennessee on June 6, 2016-WZTV PHOTO courtesy-(Becca Cullison-Burgess)

UPDATE: SMYRNA, Tenn. (WZTV)- U.S. Navy and the FAA are investigating what caused a US Navy Blue Angel F/A 18 aircraft to crash during practice.

The pilot, Capt. Jeff Kuss, died.

The other five Blue Angels pilots landed safely. No one else was hurt.

Federal investigators are searching an eight acre site off of Weakley Lane for plane parts.

"He just didn't pull up in time," Thomas Bucher said, witness.

While watching the Blue Angels practice Thursday afternoon, they witnessed the crash.

Capt. Kuss crashed shortly after takeoff at approximately 3:01 p.m.

"When it was coming down, it was like it just lost power and it went straight down," John Ganschow, a witness, said."

Smyrna City Manager Harry Gill said it happened two miles from the Smyrna airport runway. The plane had been a US Navy F/A 18, part of the navy's flight squadron.

A handful of homes were affected by downed power lines.

The Blue Angels will not be performing this weekend due to the deadly crash.


UPDATE: Officials have confirmed a pilot was killed in the U.S. Navy Blue Angels crash in Smyrna, Tenn.

The pilot has been identified as Cpt. Jeff Kuss.

Rutherford County EMA said the crash happened about 3 p.m. Thursday behind the Bowling Center on Weakley Lane.

The U.S. Navy said a F/A-18 aircraft assigned to the Blue Angels crashed while practicing for the Great Tennessee Airshow that is scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday. The Blue Angels will no longer be performing in that show.

Cheif of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson wrote on Facebook, "My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the Blue Angels after this tragic loss. I know that the Navy and Marine Corps Team is with me. We will investigate this accident fully and do all we can to prevent similar incidents in the future." --JMR"

A vigil has been planned for Kuss at 8 p.m. at Lee Victory Recreational Park.


A Blue Angel jet has reportedly crashed in Smyrna, a Rutherford County dispatcher said,.

The U.S. Navy Blue Angel jet crashed after takeoff during a practice flight around 3 p.m.

Becca Cullision-Burgess said 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 on Thursday.

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