Two jets from elite US military squadrons crash, one pilot dead

Air Force Jet Crashes After Flyover At Academy Commencement

June 2 (Reuters) - Two fighter jets from elite U.S. military demonstration squadrons crashed in separate incidents on Thursday, including one that had just done a flyover of the Air Force Academy graduation in Colorado where President Barack Obama had spoken.

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In Tennessee, a pilot from the Navy's Blue Angels squadron was killed when his F/A-18 jet crashed in Smyrna, about 24 miles (39 km) southeast of Nashville, a Navy spokeswoman said.

Photos from the scene in Tennessee:

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Navy's Blue Angels squadron jet crash
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Two jets from elite US military squadrons crash, one pilot dead
An emergency vehicle leaves the crash site of a F/A-18 jet from the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels squadron which crashed in Smyrna, Tennessee, June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
The crash site of a F/A-18 jet from the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels squadron which crashed in Smyrna, Tennessee, June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
Smyrna police direct traffic near the crash site of a F/A-18 jet from the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels squadron which crashed in Smyrna, Tennessee, June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
Smyrna police direct traffic near the crash site of a F/A-18 jet from the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels squadron which crashed in Smyrna, Tennessee, June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
A military aircraft flies into the Smyrna airport after the crash site of a F/A-18 jet from the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels squadron which crashed in Smyrna, Tennessee, June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
Smyrna police direct traffic near the crash site of a F/A-18 jet from the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels squadron which crashed in Smyrna, Tennessee, June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
A helicopter flies over the crash site of a F/A-18 jet from the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels squadron which crashed in Smyrna, Tennessee, June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
A helicopter flies over the crash site of a F/A-18 jet from the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels squadron which crashed in Smyrna, Tennessee, June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
A helicopter flies over the crash site of a F/A-18 jet from the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels squadron which crashed in Smyrna, Tennessee, June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
An emergency vehicle leaves the crash site of an F/A-18 jet from the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels squadron which crashed in Smyrna, Tennessee June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
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The crash occurred about 2 miles (3 km) from an airport runway while the Blue Angels were practicing for a weekend air show, the Navy said, adding that the cause of the crash was being investigated. The pilot's name was not made public.

In Colorado, a pilot with the Air Force's Thunderbirds squadron was unhurt when his F-16 jet crashed in a field 5 miles (8 km) south of Peterson Air Force Base, the Air Force said.

The pilot, whose name was not released, ejected safely and was picked up by emergency response crews, the Air Force said.

Photos from the crash in Colorado:

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Air Force's Thunderbirds jet crash
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Two jets from elite US military squadrons crash, one pilot dead
F-16 jets are seen on the Tarmac were US President Barack Obama met with a Thunderbird pilot who crashed earlier in the day during an Air Force Academy graduation at Peterson Air Force Base June 2, 2016 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Emergency vehicles are seen on the Tarmac were US President Barack Obama met with a Thunderbird pilot who crashed earlier in the day during an Air Force Academy graduation at Peterson Air Force Base June 2, 2016 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Emergency vehicles are seen on the Tarmac were US President Barack Obama met with a Thunderbird pilot who crashed earlier in the day during an Air Force Academy graduation at Peterson Air Force Base June 2, 2016 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - June 02: Air Force Thunderbirds perform at the United States Air Force Academy 58th graduation at Falcon Stadium June 02, 2016. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Cadets caps and Air Force Thunderbirds are seen during a graduation ceremony at the US Air Force Academy's Falcon Stadium June 2, 2016 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. US President Barack Obama gave the commencement speech at the academy. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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White House spokesman Josh Earnest said a military helicopter that had been supporting Obama's motorcade on the drive back to Peterson AFB peeled off to find the crash site.

A Secret Service agent onboard who is also an emergency medic assessed the pilot, who was then flown to Peterson. The helicopter then resumed its mission in support of Obama's motorcade.

Obama later visited the Thunderbird pilot at Peterson to thank him for his service and express relief he had not been seriously hurt, Earnest said.

Earnest said the pilot was up and walking around when the president saw him. The president also thanked the emergency responders who picked up the pilot.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known and the Air Force said it would undertake an investigation. The Air Force's Air Combat Command said on Twitter that no one was hurt on the ground and there was no hazard to the public. (Reporting by Jeff Mason in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Additional reporting by Phil Stewart, Timothy Gardner and Idrees Ali in Washington; Writing by David Alexander and Eric Beech; Editing by Toni Reinhold and James Dalgleish)

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