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Blue Angels: Pilot killed in crash of US Navy jet during practice flight in Tennessee

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A US Navy Blue Angels jet crashed during a practice run in preparation for a weekend air show in Tennessee, killing the pilot.

Onlookers stood stunned across Smyrna, a town to the southeast of Nashville, as the jet careened toward the ground, erupting in a fireball and cloud of black smoke.

Rutherford County fire chief Larry Farley confirmed that one person had been killed in the crash, according to The Tennessean.

A US official identified the decased as Marine Capt Jeff Kuss, according to the Associated Press.

 Mr Kuss, 32, first joined the Blue Angels team in September 2014. A Colorado native, he is survived by his wife and two children.

An administrator from Fort Lewis College, where Mr Kuss earned a bachelor’s degree in economics, expressed sadness at the loss of their former student.

“We’re devastated at the news at the loss of Capt. Kuss. He was a Skyhawk and we at Fort Lewis College are very proud of what he accomplished in his career,“ said Fort Lewis College spokesperson Mitchel Davis.  ”And I’m sure I speak for the alumni of Fort Lewis College everywhere that our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”

The Navy Times says the Blue Angels are scheduled to perform 66 flight demonstrations across 34 locations in the US in 2016. The elite air acrobatics troupe is currently celebrating its 70th anniversary.

The last Blue Angels fighter jet crashed during a flight demonstration at a South Carolina air show in 2007.

“They were doing maneuvers and generally when the planes loop around they cross the runway and then turn around and basically when they turned around we saw a cloud of black smoke,” an onlooker who was at the event told Reuters.

Lt Cmdr Kevin J Davis, the pilot of the jet, died in the almost decade-old crash.