Editors note: video contains explicit language
A video that appears to show last week’s crash of a Blue Angels jet in Smyrna, Tenn., that killed pilot Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, surfaced online Tuesday. The video appears to be the only footage that shows Kuss’s last moments before impact.
Kuss, 32, along with his fellow Blue Angels, were practicing for an upcoming airshow that weekend.
The June 2 incident occurred just hours after an Air Force F-16 Thunderbird crashed outside of Colorado Springs, although in that crash the pilot ejected safely. The Thunderbirds, like the Blue Angels, are a demonstration squadron and the fact that both squadrons suffered similar incidents on the same day is extremely rare, if not unheard of.
According to a statement released by the Navy the day of the crash, Kuss was taking off when the “mishap” occurred. In the video it appears Kuss, flying in the number six position, takes off and immediately begins a sharp climb, near the apex of which he conducts a barrel roll (35 second mark.) While the video pans to observe another aircraft that appears to have taken off around the same time, in the right portion of the frame it seems that Kuss’s aircraft soon stalls and begins its uncontrolled descent.
The camera swings back to observe a four aircraft diamond formation, yet by the time it pans back to where Kuss was last seen, a black smoke cloud has already mushroomed above the tree line.
According to the Navy, the crash occurred two miles from the runway and an investigation into the incident is ongoing. Some reports on social media said that Kuss did not eject from his aircraft so he could ensure that his jet did not crash into a populated area. The Navy, however, could not verify those claims.
Kuss’s death marks the first Blue Angels loss since 2007, when Navy Lt. Cmdr Kevin Davis crashed in the final moments of an airshow in Beaufort, S.C. Davis, also a pilot in the six position, lost consciousness during a high G-force maneuver.
Kuss’s remains were sent to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and then flown back to the Blue Angels’ home station in Pensacola, Fla., on Tuesday.
In memory of Kuss, the Navy organized a fly-over of Pensacola featuring the Blue Angels transport C-130 that was carrying Kuss’s remains, along with Kuss’s wing man, Navy Lt. Ryan Chamberlain.