By Kasim Ileri
WASHINGTON (AA) - A Navy F/A 18 Blue Angels jet crashed in Tennessee on Thursday during a practice flight ahead of an air show this weekend, Navy told Anadolu Agency.
"The pilot of the jet was taking off to start the afternoon practice when the mishap occurred," a Navy spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Hayley Sims told Anadolu Agency. "The pilot died from injuries sustained during the crash."
The name of the pilot and side number of the aircraft will not be released until 24-hours after the next-of-kin notifications have been completed, according to Sims.
"The Navy is deeply saddened by the loss of this service member. We extend our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the family of the pilot, and those he served with," she added.
The crash happened approximately two miles from the runway shortly after six jets roared above downtown Nashville at 3.30 p.m. local time (GMT0730) according to Sims.
She said the other five Blue Angel jets were not involved in the incident and landed safely moments later.
Photos of the scene that were posted on social media show a fireball and thick black plume of smoke in Smyrna, near Nashville.
The Blue Angels are the Navy’s elite demonstration aircraft. They are scheduled to fly during the Great Tennessee Air Show during the upcoming weekend, according the Navy’s website.
The team is going to fly 66 demonstrations at 34 locations throughout the nation in 2016 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the group, according to the Navy.