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Blue Angels, F-16 Viper to Headline the Great Tennessee Airshow

The Great Tennessee Airshow will mark the Navy's Blue Angels only appearence in the middle South. (Charles A Atkeison)

SMYRNA, Tenn. — The largest air show in the middle south will see the return of the Navy’s Blue Angels, as civilian aerobatic pilots and military aircraft perform in June at the Great Tennessee Air Show.

Tennessee’s highest-rated air show returns the weekend of June 8 and 9 to the Smyrna Airport. The family-friendly event will include static aircraft displays and a special Kids Zone jump area.

“Once again, we are privileged and honored to be hosting the U.S. Navy Blue Angels at this premier Middle Tennessee event,” John Black, Executive Director of the Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport Authority, said on Friday. “With this year’s stellar lineup, the Great Tennessee Air Show is poised to present one of the strongest airshow lineups anywhere in North America.”

The GEICO Skytypers six Navy SNJ-2 aircraft are beautiful and dynamic in flight. (Skytypers)

The Air Force F-16 Viper Demo Team and the World War II-era flying of the GEICO Skytypers Airshow Team will co-headline the event. Each, an air show favorite, will perform a 15-minute demonstration both days.

The Blue Angels Return to Smyrna

The Blue Angels only appearance in the middle south will occur three years to the week of their last visit to Smyrna. A shortened visit which saw the Blue Angels loose their opposing solo Capt. Jeff Kuss in a jet crash as he began a practice flight with the team.

The city of Smyrna dedicated a beautiful memorial to the fallen pilot last June near the runway he last flew from. As the air show community and local residents reflect upon his legacy, this season’s show will move forward without looking back — and that is the wish of Kuss’ family.

“The best tribute to Jeff Kuss was building the memorial on Sam Ridley Parkway,” Black said. “That offered closure for the family and the team. It is their wish that the show celebrate the 2019 team, so there will not be any tribute at the air show.”

Capt. Jeff Kuss USMC Memorial in Smyrna honors the late-Blue Angels pilot. (Charles Atkeison)

Black added that the community can honor his legacy during the inaugural Capt. Jeff Kuss Memorial 6K Top Gun Run on May 31. The 3.7 mile course from the airport to the golf course will then finish at the memorial.

Top Civilian Aerobatic Pilots to Perform

Aerobatic champion pilots Patty Wagstaff, Rob Holland, and Mike Wiskus will perform their dizzying displays of flight. Aerobatic pilots Sean D. Tucker and Jesse Panzer will fly together in tandem as Team Oracle’s Two Ship Act.

The World War II-era P-51D Mustang “Quicksilver” will fly each afternoon piloted by Scott “Scooter” Yoak in a celebration to America’s armed forces. The aircraft is decorated with black and white stripes on her wings to honor the 75th anniversary of the Allied D-Day invasion at Normandy, France.

The beauty of the the military jet teams and the civilian pilots are best appreciated from around air show center along the show’s crowd line. To witness and photograph these precision aircraft at the closest point inside the gates is the heartbeat of every air show guest.

Air Force F-16 Viper Demo Team’s new pilot Maj. Garret Schmitz will perform each day at Smyrna. (USAF)

Air show tickets and VIP parking passes, including group ticket packages, are available online only. Black added that general parking is free to the public and will be available both days on a first come, first served basis.

(Charles A Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)

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Charles Atkeison

Written by Charles Atkeison

Charles A Atkeison is a long time aerospace journalist having covered both military and civilian aviation, plus 30 space shuttle launches from Cape Canaveral. He has produced multimedia aerospace content for CNN, London's Sky News, radio, print, and the web for twenty years. From flying with his father at age 5 to soaring as a VIP recently with the Navy's Blue Angels and USAF Thunderbirds, Charles continues to enjoy all aspects of flight.

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