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Blue Angels back up to six pilots after deadly June crash

After a month flying air shows with a plane missing from their six-jet delta formation, the Blue Angels are rounding out their squadron with a new pilot this weekend.

Cmdr. Frank Weisser will join the team this weekend at the Cleveland National Air Show, flying the opposing solo position and replacing Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, who died in a June 2 crash.

"The transition has been a bit easier than I expected," Weisser said in a Thursday release. "I haven't flown an airshow in six years, but I am pleased as to how fast it's come back. I am really excited to get back and ultimately the crowd will be the best judge." 

He previously served with the Blues from 2008 to 2010 as an opposing solo and lead solo pilot, as well as a narrator.

Weisser began practicing with the team after his selection in July but did not participate in air shows, which were performed by the five other pilots.

"After a person has completed a successful Blue Angel tour, they’ve got two seasons under their belt, and roughly six to seven hundred hours of flying in Blue Angels demonstrations," said Lt. Ryan Chamberlain, the lead solo. "We are just taking a rusty bicycle, cleaning off that rust and getting him back up to speed."

Weisser is filling in as the No. 6 pilot this year and will stay on next season as the squadron's No.5 lead solo pilot and operations officer.

"I am grateful that I can, in some small way, do my part to further the mission of the Blue Angels," said Weisser. "I am sad, because this is Capt. Kuss’ team, this is his position I am flying. I am thankful that I can honor his memory and his legacy here."

The investigation into the F/A-18C Hornet crash that killed Kuss is finished and being reviewed by senior leadership, a spokesman confirmed.

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