The Navy’s Flight Demonstration Team surprised Pensacola residents yesterday as they streaked overhead. It was the first time the team had been back in the air for practice after losing one of their own, #6 Captain Jeff Kuss, during a training flight in Tennessee.
The team has been grounded for two weeks as they took account of their operating procedures and mourned the loss of their teammate.
Check out the triumphant and moving launch of the team’s F/A-18s from along the flight-line at NAS Pensacola:
And after they landed:
Although the team is practicing once again, it's not clear when they will make a return to the air show circuit. Currently, the Vero Beach Air Show, scheduled for June 25th and 26th, remains in limbo. Also unknown is how the team will fill the #6 opposing solo position, or if they will fill it at all for the remainder of the season. Doing so will require plucking a past solo pilot from the fleet and getting them worked up again with the team in order to make the Blue Angel Delta formation, and the solo’s combined act, complete. They could also go without the #6 jet, altering their routine to make it work in the process.
As for what caused the crash in Tennessee, there is still no official word. But the fact that the team is flying again is a good sign that nothing glaringly systemic led to the tragic event.
As The War Zone noted previously, if there's any institution in the world that can quickly recover from tragedy, it's the Blue Angels.
Blue Angel #2, Lt. Matt Suyderhoud, perhaps best put things into perspective during his eulogy for Captain Kuss last week:
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