The pilot of a US Navy Blue Angel F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet was killed Thursday when the aircraft crashed in central Tennessee, a Navy official confirmed to Fox News.
The crash involving the jet happened after 3 p.m. southeast of Nashville in the town of Smyrna, a Rutherford County dispatcher told Fox 17.
La Vergne, Tenn. Fire Chief Rick McCormick told Fox News that the jet crashed off airport property just after takeoff.
He added that the jet did not crash into buildings off the runway.
Commander Jeannie Grenaveld, a spokeswoman for Naval Air Forces, told Fox News the crash happened during a practice flight for the Great Tennessee Airshow in Smyrna. The Blue Angels were supposed to perform June 4 and 5 at the airport, but canceled after the deadly crash.
Harry Gill, the town manager in Smyrna just outside Nashville, said Thursday that the pilot was the only casualty. Some power outages were caused by the crash, but no civilians were hurt.
A U.S. official told the Associated Press the pilot invovled in the crash was Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity to the AP. According to his official Blue Angels biography, Kuss joined the elite acrobatics team in 2014 and accumulated more than 1,400 flight hours.
The Navy said that it will conduct an investigation into the cause of the crash.
Becca Cullision-Burgess told Fox 17 she was in her shop “My Southern Charm” when she saw the crash.
“I’ve never seen such a big ball or orange fire before,” she said.
The Blue Angels flew over downtown Nashville earlier in the day.
Earlier Thursday, an Air Force Thunderbird jet crashed south of Colorado Springs, Colo. just after a flyover for a graduation of Air Force Academy cadets where President Obama had spoken.
Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Michal Kloeffler-Howard said the pilot safely ejected from the jet.
President Obama met with the pilot shortly after the plane.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the president thanked the pilot for his service and expressed his relief that he wasn’t seriously injured
The F-16 crashed in a field near Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs just after ceremonies at the nearby academy where Obama delivered the commencement address.
Authorities say no one on the ground was injured in the Colorado incident.
There were four crashes of U.S. military jets last month in May.
Following the crash of two Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets involved in a collision on May 26 off the coast of North Carolina as well as a crash of a USAF B-52 in Guam earlier in the month, Fox News asked Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook if the secretary was concerned about the state of US military aviation.
“There is some significant investment in this budget, aggressive investment in terms of trying to deal with readiness issues, but we’re not going to solve this overnight,” said Cook.
The four Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet aviators were rescued following a safe ejection into the Atlantic Ocean, with local fisherman picking up one of the jet’s crew.
In early May a USMC Harrier jet crashed off the coast of North Carolina, but the pilot ejected safely and was recovered.
Fox News recently traveled to four US Air Force and Marine aviation bases, where pilots complained that their flight hours had been cut in half.
Almost 70 percent of of USMC F/A-18 Hornets cannot fly right now, and a similar amount of heavy lift CH-53 helicopters as well.
In the Air Force, half of B-1 bombers right now are not mission capable.
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.