Nearly a decade has passed since the last time a U.S. service member died in a military air show outside Beaufort, S.C., in April 2007. But on Thursday, both the Navy and Air Force were dealt devastating blows after two separate planes crashed, killing one of the pilots.
Military investigators were already on the scene late Thursday night, beginning to piece together what caused both accidents.
The first incident took place in the sky above the Air Force Academy's graduation ceremony at its Colorado Springs headquarters. President Obama attended the event and gave the keynote address.
Air Force officials said they believe the F-16 Thunderbird suffered engine failure. The pilot was able to safely eject from the jet and land without serious injury. The plane crashed into a nearby field.
Former U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Commander and Demonstration Leader John "JV" Venable said the crash was likely one of two things: a fuel issue or a mechanical issue.
The second crash took place in Smyrna, Tenn., during a practice run before an air show that was supposed to take place this weekend.
A Navy Blue Angel F/A-18 crashed shortly after taking off, just two miles from the regional airport it departed from. Venable said the cause of the Navy jet's crash was different because it occurred during takeoff and could have been the result of problem with motor or flight controls, or even the ingestion of a bird due to the plane's low altitude.
The five other Blue Angels were not affected by the crash and landed safely.
The pilot of Blue Angel 6 has been identified as Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, a father of two who joined the Blue Angels in 2014. He died from injuries sustained in the crash. His body will undergo an autopsy.
Venable said investigations into both incidents have already begun, but the results will not be known for weeks or months.
"Both teams will now take time to inventory their operations and for the Blues, that will be particularly hard. They will need time to mourn the loss of their teammate, bother in arms, and friend," said Venable, senior research fellow for Defense Policy at the Heritage Foundation.
The teams will not return to the air show circuit until the causes have been determined.