Blue Angels resume flying after fatal crash

Meghann Myers, Navy Times

Pensacola residents were treated to a pleasant surprise Thursday morning when the Blue Angels took to the sky over the beach and downtown for the first time in two weeks since a deadly crash at a Tennessee air show practice claimed the life of their No. 6 pilot.

The Navy’s elite demonstration squadron has ended its operational pause and is planning to replace the late Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, Naval Air Forces spokesman Steve Fiebing told Navy Times.

“We’ll probably be making an announcement on that before the end of the week,” he said, but couldn’t elaborate on whether the team is looking to promote its No. 7 F/A-18 Hornet pilot, Lt. Tyler Davies, who serves as the narrator during airshows.

Thursday morning’s practice only featured five of six aircraft used in the squadron’s air show, and they will continue to train with five aircraft until a replacement is named, Fiebing said.

The team will put one of its four back-up Hornets into the show rotation, he added.

A safety investigation report and command investigation are still underway to determine the cause of the crash, but the team is finalizing plans to resume its 2016 schedule.

For now, the Navy’s tactical demonstration teams from VFA-106 and VFA-122, the fleet’s F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet replacement squadrons, have filled in at air shows in Syracuse, New York, and this weekend’s in Dayton, Ohio.

Friends, family and teammates mourned Kuss on June 9 at Naval Air Station Pensacola before his body flown home to Durango, Colorado, for a Saturday funeral.

The operational pause ended the day after the team celebrated its 70th anniversary, and a second flight is scheduled for Thursday afternoon in Pensacola, Fiebing said.

The Blue Angels’ next scheduled appearance is at the Vero Beach Air Show in Florida on June 25.

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