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Navy pilot killed after 'Blue Angels' F/A-18 Hornet crashes in Tennessee

By Doug G. Ware
Navy pilot killed after 'Blue Angels' F/A-18 Hornet crashes in Tennessee
A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet, part of the branch's Blue Angels flight demonstration team, performs a looping maneuver over Smyrna, Tenn., in 2012. A pilot was killed Thursday when his fighter jet crashed in Smyrna shortly after takeoff. The team has been practicing for an air show this weekend. File Photo by U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrew Johnson

SMYRNA, Tenn., June 2 (UPI) -- A U.S. Navy pilot was killed Thursday after his F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet crashed in Tennessee -- the second accident of the day involving a military aircraft -- officials said.

The jet, part of the Navy's Blue Angels jet demonstration unit, crashed not long after taking off on a practice mission Thursday afternoon near the town of Smyrna, about 20 miles southeast of Nashville.

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The Navy said the jet had taken off from the airport in Smyrna and crashed about two miles beyond the runway. Five other F/A-18 Hornets involved in the practice missions returned and landed safely a short time later.

Black smoke could be seen for miles. The cause of the crash is under investigation. The Navy withheld the identity of the pilot pending notification of the family.

The Blue Angels have been practicing this week in advance of the Great Tennessee Air Show this weekend.

Earlier Thursday, an Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon went down near Colorado Springs after performing a flyover at the end of the academy's graduation ceremony, which featured a commencement address from President Barack Obama. The pilot ejected safely.

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