Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, the Opposing Solo for the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, was flown home on the team’s Marine C-130T with a single F-18 in escort.
“Jeff absolutely loved our Sunday evening arrivals. Flying in over downtown, ‘smokin’ the beach’ from Pensacola to Perdido, and then the hitting the Delta Pitch Up Break at sunset into Naval Air Station Pensacola,” said CDR Ryan J. Bernacchi, the Angels’ Boss, in a statement. “The smile I would see radiating under that gold visor was truly spectacular. It emanated the pride, passion, and pure joy that he felt representing the Navy and Marine Corps, flying Blue Angel 6.
“Tonight, I hope you will join the team in saluting him as he flies that special route home to Pensacola again. He is flying in Fat Albert – callsign ‘Blue Angel 6,’ and escorted by the Lead Solo, in Blue Angel 5,” said Bernacchi.
The above video shows the C-130 flight with lone Angel escort as it cleared Orange Beach, Alabama, just outside of Pensacola Naval Air Station, where the Navy Demonstration Team calls home.
He will be buried in Durango, Colorado, his hometown where he graduated from high school in 2002 before attending Fort Lewis College.
Kuss reported to NAS Pensacola for aviation indoctrination in July 2007 and went on to the fleet to fly Hornets in combat with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 (VMFA-312), the “Checkerboards,” deploying aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Kuss returned to Pensacola when he joined the Blue Angels in September 2014, having accumulated more than 1,400 flight hours and 175 carrier-arrested landings by that time.
Kuss died last Thursday in an accident while warming up for a weekend airshow in Smyrna, Tennessee.
In addition to the Angels, other demonstration teams around the world have been honoring Capt. Kuss this week to include the Breitling Jet Team, shown in the first video below, and the Royal Canadian Defense Force’s Snowbirds, in the second.