The Drive has just posted an amatuer video appearing to show the crash of the Blue Angel F/A-18 Hornet that killed pilot Capt. Jeff Kuss during a practice session in Smyrna, Tennessee, on June 2. Despite the many onlookers who were present that day, this is the first footage to surface that seems to capture the events leading up to the tragic incident.
The video begins with two F/A-18 Hornets — jets 5 and 6 — performing solo maneuvers in the distance beyond a tree line. Starting around 35 seconds into the video, while jet 5 executes a barrel roll, we see jet 6, Kuss’ aircraft, execute a high-performance climb and then suddenly plunge to the ground, at which point the camera shifts to capture a four-ship diamond flying by.
When the camera shifts back, we see the black smoke of an explosion ascending from behind the tree line and hear the onlookers curse as they absorb the shock of what they’re witnessing. “Oh my God, are you kidding me?” one says. “This is terrible, man. This is terrible.”
As The Drive’s Tyler Rogoway points out, it’s almost impossible to verify whether or not the video is authentic, though it appears to be. “The only anomaly I noticed,” writes Rogoway, “was a bit of stuttering when the jet is very small in the frame and in a low contrast area.” As the video concludes, we hear the sirens of emergency vehicles.
Reports of Kuss’s death surfaced soon after the incident, marking the first Blue Angel’s fatality since 2007, when pilot Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Davis crashed after blacking out due to heavy G-force. The cause of the most recent crash remains unknown.