Pilot killed in Tennessee Blue Angels crash was decorated, experienced

SMYRNA, Tenn. (WATE) — The U.S. Navy Blue Angels pilot killed in a crash Thursday in Tennessee was a decorated and experienced Marine pilot who had been flying with the Blue Angels for two years.

The Associated Press identified the victim as Capt. Jeff Kuss, citing a U.S. official who requested anonymity.

Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss (Courtesy: U.S. Navy Blue Angels)
Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss (Courtesy: U.S. Navy Blue Angels)

Kuss, 32, was a native of Durango, Colorado, according to the Blue Angels website, graduating from Durango High School in 2002. He then attended Fort Lewis College, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps and began aviation indoctrination in 2007.

Kuss completed primary flight training in the T-34C Turbo Mentor at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, and completed advanced training in the T-45A Goshawk at NAS Kingsville, Texas. He received his wings of gold in November 2009, and a number of other assignments and honors followed.

Kuss joined the Blue Angels in September 2014. He accumulated more than 1,400 flight hours and 175 carrier-assisted landings.

Kuss was in East Tennessee in April for the Smoky Mountain Air Show. He told WAVY News sister station WATE in April he remembered seeing the Blue Angels as a boy living in Colorado and he was excited to now be the one putting on the show.

“It’s an extreme honor. The handful of us that are on the team represent the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps and really the military as a whole,” Kuss said.

Kuss had nine years of flying experience with the Marines before being selected to fly with the Blue Angels.

This was his second year with the famous team. Last year he flew the No. 7 plane, taking civilians up and narrating the Blue Angels performance.

Kuss is survived by his wife Christina and two young children.

Click here to donate or view a GoFundMe campaign set up for Capt. Kuss’ family.

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