Everything happens fast in a jet fighter that is capable of in excess of 1000 miles per hour and altitudes of 50,000 feet. The F-18 Hornet can escape the bounds of earth at a incredible 1,000 feet per second, not bad for an aircraft that weighs more than 10 tons, empty. Around 3 PM, this past Thursday, God welcomed one of his Angels home, Captain Jeff Kuss, 32, a native of Durango, Colorado. Cpt. Kuss is now sitting in a squadron meeting with some of the finest pilot/warriors to ever strap on a fighter in the name of America. It must be quite a meeting.
The Navy, to the extent they can, will determine what happened as the Captain rotated his Hornet. All Blue Angel pilots are experienced airmen, super pilots actually, who are among the 65 or so super pilots who apply for a couple of annual vacancies on this team. The Captain, a veteran of in excess of 175 carrier landings, was one of two solo pilots on this Angel team. By every account, Cpt. Kuss was a terrific husband, father, son and Marine. When he graduated from high school in Durango, Co., he knew he wanted to fly…..and quickly reached the pinnacle of piloting when he was accepted into the Blue Angels.
The Hornet is said to possess excellent low speed flight characteristics, a lesson in physics that easily exceeds the reasoning ability of most of us. When you think about the controlled crash that constitutes putting 10 tons of steel onto a carrier deck, maneuverability is a definite asset. With this being said, it is still an airplane, and an airplane’s best friend is altitude and airspeed which makes them and their pilots particularly vulnerable when taking off and landing. This terrible crash, two or so miles from the end of the runway, provided little in terms of altitude and speed………
Someone, in this horrible moment, took a picture that reminds us of the incredible strength of these exemplary pilots, a picture of the Angel formation flying over the smoke and fire they knew marked the loss of one of their own. We can only imagine their feelings as they overflew the crash site, still maintaining the integrity of the formation. It is the risk they accept to be one of America’s finest defenders of all that we hold dear. Thank you Cpt. Kuss, and may God watch over your family and the Angel extended family.
Things happen fast in a fighter jet. The concept of “fast” we are told, is not a concept that applies in Heaven. You now have the opportunity to talk flying with those who have gone before you. You are a Marine, sir, and will quickly adapt……..