The Navy announced Thursday that pilot error, combined with weather and fatigue as contributing factors, caused Blue Angel #6 to crash June 2 near Smyrna, Tenn. Marine Corps pilot Capt. Jeff Kruss was killed in the crash, which also resulted in destructions of the F/A-18C. A Navy Judge Advocate General investigation determined the cause of the crash. The investigation also found that Capt. Kuss died in the line of duty and not as a result of misconduct, according to a Navy press release. “Captain Kuss represented the best and brightest of Naval Aviation” said Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker. “His professionalism, expertise, and love of flying made him a valued member of the Blue Angels. His loss is devastating and felt across the Naval Aviation community. It is our duty as leaders and aviators to stress vigilance and operational risk management to avoid future tragedies.”
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.