OCEAN CITY, Md. —Despite two unrelated crashes involving U.S. Air Force and Navy pilots, the Ocean City Air Show will go on as planned, Ocean City Air Show officials announced Friday.
An Air Force Thunderbird jet crash in a field Thursday outside Petersen Air Force Base in Colorado following their flyover for the Air Force Academy graduation, causing the team to temporarily stand down for an undetermined amount of time. The Thunderbirds have officially canceled their performance at Kirtland Air Force Base this weekend.
However, there has been no change to their scheduled performance at the Rhode Island National Guard Open House on June 11-12 or for their performance at the OC Air Show on June 18-19.
Major Alex Turner, the opposing solo pilot for the Thunderbird 6, safely ejected from his F-16C on Thursday and is in good condition, according to the team. He met with President Barack Obama, who spoke at the graduation ceremony, following the incident.
"The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team will be stood down for an undetermined amount of time, following this mishap,” according to a statement released last night from the Thunderbirds. "A stand down following a significant mishap is standard procedure, allowing accident investigation officials to gather facts and ensure the continued safe operation of our aircraft."
However, the crash of a U.S. Navy Blue Angel jet Thursday in an unrelated incident in Smyrna, Tennessee was fatal. Captain Jeff Kuss, Blue Angel 6, was killed in the incident.
Kuss was the opposing solo pilot for the 2016 Blue Angels and last year served as Blue Angel 7, the team’s advance pilot and narrator. He narrated every Blue Angel performance last year at the team’s inaugural appearance at the OC Air Show. Thousands of spectators met him as he walked the beach during the narration of the performances.
"Our hearts and prayers are with the family of Captain Kuss and the entire Blue Angels team," OC Air Show president Bryan Lilley said. "He was an American hero and I am truly honored to have had the opportunity to get to know him personally. I know everyone who had a chance to meet him has been touched by such an amazing individual."
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are scheduled to headline the OC Air Show on June 18-19 over the oceanfront that will also feature the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the U.S. Navy F-18F Super Hornet.