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Navy Blue Angels Pilot Killed in Crash in Tennessee

No civilians were injured but a Blue Angels pilot was killed when his craft crashed near Smyrna, Tennessee.
Image: Blue Angels jet
A Blue Angels F/A-18 fighter jet lands at an air show last month in Lynchburg, Virginia.Matt Bell / AP

A pilot with the Navy's elite Blue Angels squadron was killed Thursday in Tennessee just hours after an Air Force Thunderbird pilot was forced to eject from his jet in Colorado, authorities said.

The deadly crash near Smyrna happened about 3 p.m. (4 p.m. ET) as the Blue Angels practiced for their weekend show, the Navy said. The pilot was killed shortly after takeoff when his plane went down about 2 miles from the runway, Smyrna City Manager Harry Gill told reporters.

No one else was believed to have been injured, authorities said. The pilot's five colleagues landed safely moments later, they said.

No parachute was deployed, a Navy official told NBC News. The Navy said it wouldn't identify the pilot until his family could be told.

Organizers of the Great Tennessee Air Show said the event would go ahead as scheduled Saturday and Sunday but that the Blue Angels wouldn't perform.

"Our hearts are deeply saddened by today's tragic and devastating accident," said John Black, executive director of Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport.

Meanwhile, the military was investigating the crash of an Air Force Thunderbird jet after the flyover for the Air Force Academy graduation in Colorado Springs.

A Blue Angels F/A-18 fighter jet lands at an air show last month in Lynchburg, Virginia.Matt Bell / AP

The crash occurred about 5 nautical miles south of the base. The pilot, identified as Maj. Alex Turner, ejected safely and underwent medical evaluation as a precaution. The Thunderbird squadron said Thursday night that it also wouldn't go ahead with its weekend performance, scheduled for the Kirtland Air Show.

Upon arrival at Peterson Air Force Base, President Barack Obama visited briefly with Turner, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. The president thanked Turner for his service and expressed relief that he wasn't seriously injured.

Obama also thanked the first responders who acted quickly to tend to the pilot.

For his part, Turner seemed fine, saluting the president when he approached and shaking his hand.

Earlier in the day, the president spoke to the 2016 Air Force Academy graduates in Colorado Springs, his final such speech to a graduating class of military officers.

Vicky Collins contributed.