Q&A with a Blue Angel pilot

Q&A with a Blue Angel pilot

Captain Jeff Kuss looks forward to a ‘safe and precise’ show

Captain Jeff Kuss is a 33-year-old F18 Blue Angel pilot who will by flying over the Keys this weekend with a sense of pride and privilege. Originally from Durango, Colorado, Captain Kuss knew he wanted to be a pilot since he was 8 years old and set his sights on the Marines. In the past 10 years, he trained on the aircraft carrier Truman and flew F18’s around the world earning his place on the Blue Angel crew.

The U.S. Navy’s world-renowned Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron will perform Saturday and Sunday, April 2-3, at NAS Key West’s Boca Chica Field, MM 8. Gates open at 9 a.m. both days, with the show slated to begin at 10 a.m.

Keys Weekly: What does it takes to be a Blue Angel?

Kuss: Team work, hard work, discipline and wanting to fly fast.

Keys Weekly: How fast is fast?

Kuss: The planes go just under Mach 1, which is around 700 mph on the ground. A tank of gas can last about 800 to 900 miles, so we need to refuel either on ground or in the air after an hour.

Keys Weekly: What is ‘delta formation’?

Kuss: It’s our trademark diamond formation, where our wing tips are only 18 inches apart. We endure eight times the force of gravity. [No “g” suit, either.]

Keys Weekly: What does the lead pilot do?

Kuss: He talks the other pilots through the moves, but also emits a small humming sound or gives commands in a sing-song voice over the radio in order to develop a cadence. The familiar rhythm allows pilots to better judge the turns and maneuvers without visual signals.

Keys Weekly: What does a Blue Angels pilot eat for breakfast?

Kuss: [Laughing] Actually, we eat a lot. It’s like a major sport — you have to stay fueled and hydrated.

Other fun facts:

  • The Blue Angels name was picked by the original team when they were planning a show in New York in 1946. One of them came across the name of the city’s famous Blue Angel nightclub in New Yorker Magazine.
  • The Blue Angel’s planes cost about $21 million each.

 

Sheriff issues traffic alert

This weekend is the NAS Key West Southernmost Air Spectacular. The event may cause periodic traffic slow-downs in the area of the Boca Chica four-lane on U.S.1 particularly between the hours of 8 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. Everyone attending, and those traveling through the area on Saturday and Sunday, should be aware of the potential for traffic back-ups due to this event and should plan accordingly. Also, there will be no stopping or parking allowed on the highway during this event. Sheriff’s Office Traffic Enforcement deputies will be continuously patrolling the area between Stock Island and Big Coppitt Key. For more information, visit airshowkeywest.com.

 

 

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