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....
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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.