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Body of Fallen Blue Angels Pilot Flown Home to Florida

  • This May 19, 2016, photo shows Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss at an air show in Lynchburg, Va. Matt Bell/The Register & Bee via AP
    This May 19, 2016, photo shows Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss at an air show in Lynchburg, Va. Matt Bell/The Register & Bee via AP
  • U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform at the 2015 MCAS Miramar Air Show at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, Oct. 2. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Kimberlyn Adams)
    U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform at the 2015 MCAS Miramar Air Show at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, Oct. 2. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Kimberlyn Adams)

The body of a Blue Angels solo pilot who tragically died in a crash during a practice flight last week will be transported home to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, later Tuesday as the team conducts a flyover in his honor.

Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, the opposing solo for the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels and pilot of the No. 6 aircraft, was killed June 2 when his F/A-18 Hornet crashed near Smyrna, Tennessee, days before the Navy's precision demonstration flight team was set to perform at the Great Tennessee Airshow.

Kuss' body was transported to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware from Smyrna on June 4.

The final transport and the honorary flight over the Pensacola region will take place at about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, according to an announcement today from the Blue Angels.

The lead solo pilot, Navy Lt. Ryan Chamberlain, will lead the Blue Angels' C-130T Hercules aircraft, known as Fat Albert, in the flyover, before landing at the team's home base at Forrest Sherman Field, according to the release.

A memorial ceremony for Kuss will be held at the air station chapel on June 9, officials said.

The team remains in a temporary stand-down in the wake of Kuss' death in order to allow investigators to gather evidence to determine the cause of the crash and to regroup from the tragedy.

While the Blue Angels had been scheduled to fly 60 demonstrations at 31 locations this year and have 21 major events remaining on their official calendar, it's unclear when a decision will be made about how to continue the rest of the season.

"We're kind of just taking it a day at a time now," Petty Officer 2nd Class Jennifer LeBron, a public affairs office for the Blue Angels, told Military.com.

The extremely rare and tragic accident comes at the elite flying team celebrates its 70th anniversary year.

The last fatal Blue Angels accident was in 2007, when the pilot of the No. 6 jet, Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Davis, lost control in a G-pull and crashed into the ground near the end of an air show demonstration in Beaufort, South Carolina.

A former Fat Albert pilot, Maj. Dusty Cook, told Military.com last week that the team rehearses every precision maneuver exhaustively ahead of demonstrations.

"You plan for success. You are always ready. You've got the best guys for the job," he said. "They are always ready for the worst-case scenario. You are trained and ready to execute."

The cause of the June 2 crash remains under investigation; no further information about the incident has been publicly released.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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