ATLANTA - A Blue Angels pilot killed in a fiery crash near Nashville on Thursday was part of the same elite Navy team which performed in metro Atlanta last Fall during the Great Georgia Air Show in Peachtree City.
Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss flew the number 6 F-18A Hornet and provided complementary rides to World Cup soccer star Kelley O’Hara as well as others before the show.
FOX 5’s Doug Evans spent time Capt. Kuss and remembered him as an impressive young man who shared his passion for the Blue Angels with others.
“There was a reason he was picked to give these rides to the public,” Evans said. “Capt. Kuss had a reassuring smile and was so patient. You had to think some of these people were excited but scared out of the minds to experience that kind of flying.”
Atlanta’s Kelley O’Hara was one of them. In Evans’ story on the experience, O’Hara staggered, laughing and smiling, at the end of her ride and exchanged a high five with a ground crew member. Then Capt. Kuss presented her with a framed certificate to commemorate her ride with him.
“I remember Kelley saying how amazing it was to experience the G forces she did and how impressed she was with the captain’s flying,” Evans said. “He had actually driven me down to the air field for Kelley’s ride and as I got out of the car I joked, 'hey now I’ve ridden with Blue Angels!' We laughed together.”
Peachtree City attorney Kevin Snyder rode with Capt. Kuss after O’Hara’s flight.
“He was so gracious to my family and me during my flight with him last year,” Snyder said. “He was made by God for the job. His people skills were only surpassed by his flying ability.”
Snyder was chosen to ride with the Blue Angles for his volunteer work with the Boy Scouts. When contacted by FOX 5 Friday, Snyder remembered talking with Capt. Kuss about his grueling schedule and the time spent away from his family.
“It made me realize the sacrifice he was making to share the wonder and spirit of the Blue Angels with his citizens,” Snyder said. “I want to give my personal thanks to his family for sharing him with us.”
The Blue Angels performance at the 2015 Great Georgia was cut short when rain and thick clouds moved in the second day.
This week while practicing for The Great Tennessee Air Show near Nashville, Capt. Kuss’ number 6 plane went down and burst into flames. According to the Navy, Kuss was named to the team in 2014 and had more than 1,400 hours in the cockpit. No immediate cause has been released. The Navy said it would launch a full investigation.
The Blue Angels performance was canceled.