Just a few months ago, Durango-born Blue Angels pilot Jeff Kuss got a chance to meet John Elway prior to thrilling the crowd with a flyover prior to a big Denver Broncos win at the Super Bowl.
Now, Elway is saluting Kuss, who died in a crash during a practice flight prior to a planned performance at the Great Tennessee Airshow in the community of Smyrna.
In the wake of Kuss's death, Elway tweeted the photo above along with this note: "Honored to have met @BlueAngels Capt Jeff Kuss, a Broncos fan & Colo. native, at Super Bowl. Prayers to his family."
This tribute isn't the only one that's been paid to Kuss in the wake of his passing on a day marked by another high-profile mishap involving a ceremonial flyover. In addition to the Tennessee incident, a Thunderbird jet deployed during President Barack Obama's commencement address at the Air Force Academy crashed outside Colorado Springs; the pilot survived.
A July 2014 post on the U.S. Navy Blue Angels Facebook page features this photo of Kuss....
...and the following description:
F/A-18 Demonstration Pilot: Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, 30, of Durango, Colo., is currently assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 (VMFA-312) Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C. He is a 2006 graduate of Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colo.
A Navy Times report notes that Kuss officially became a member of the Blue Angels the following September, and since then, he's taken part in many high-profile events — the Super Bowl chief among them.
The crash that took his life remains under investigation. But Kuss reportedly maneuvered his stricken aircraft away from populated areas before his death — a topic frequently mentioned in tweets about him. Here's one example....
Kuss left behind his wife, Christina, and two children. We offer our sincere condolences to them and all of Jeff Kuss's friends, family and loved ones.
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Here's a 9News report about Kuss.