Pilot killed in Blue Angels crash

A Blue Angels F/A-18 fighter jet pilot did not eject and was killed when the aircraft crashed Thursday near Nashville, Tennessee, a U.S. official said.

A U.S. official says the pilot was identified as Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
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.

"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." Adm. John Richardson, the Navy's top officer, said in a Facebook post.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the Blue Angels after this tragic loss.  I know that the...

Posted by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson on Thursday, June 2, 2016

Larry Farley, Rutherford County fire chief told The Tennessean earlier that one person was killed in the crash.

The other five Blue Angels landed safely.

The elite acrobatics team was scheduled to perform at an air show this weekend.

People near the crash site also told The Tennessean that they heard a huge explosion and saw a massive plume of smoke when the plane went down. Jennifer Elliott, who had been watching the jets practice before going inside her house, said everything shook.

"It sounded like car crashed into my house," she said.

Rebecca Durand told the newspaper she thought the jet was performing a stunt when she saw its nose come straight down.

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

This is the second fighter jet crash of the day for the military's elite fighter jet performance teams. A member of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds crashed in Colorado following a flyover for the Air Force Academy graduation where President Barack Obama spoke. That pilot ejected safely into a field.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.