DENVER – The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels both suffered crashes on the same day this week, but the military says the high-drama, high-dollar flying teams are worth the money and the risk.
The Defense Department and supporters say the two squadrons help citizens feel good about their military and give a boost to recruitment.
A Blue Angels F/A-18 jet crashed Thursday near Nashville, Tennessee, killing the pilot, Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss.
Also Thursday, a Thunderbirds F-16 crashed outside Colorado Springs, Colorado, after a performance, but the pilot, Maj. Alex Turner, ejected safely.
Both crashes are under investigation.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Katie Maricle says the Thunderbirds have an annual budget of $35 million. A Navy spokesman couldn't immediately provide the Blue Angels budget.