PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - The commander of the Navy's famed Blue
Angels flight demonstration team said Friday he is voluntarily
leaving the team soon after some of its jets flew at a lower
altitude than allowed at a Virginia air show last weekend.
Navy Cmdr. Dave Koss announced his departure four days after the
team said it was going on an indefinite safety stand-down because
of the error.
Four of the six F/A-18 Hornets flew below their specified
altitude in a diamond formation at the Lynchburg, Va., show. All
six aircraft landed safely about three-fourths of the way through
the scheduled performance without damage to the planes or injury to
the pilots. The exact altitude they violated has not been released.
The team cancelled performances surrounding Friday's graduation
at the U.S. Naval Academy and a planned Memorial Day weekend
performances at an air show in Millville, N.J.
"I performed a maneuver that had an unacceptably low minimum
altitude," Koss said in a statement released by the Navy. "This
maneuver, combined with other instances of not meeting the airborne
standard that makes the Blue Angels the exceptional organization
that it is, led to my decision to step down."
Greg McWherter, a former Blue Angels' Commanding Officer will
replace Koss for the season, the team said. Because of the change,
the team has cancelled its performances at the Rockford Airfest in
Illinois on June 4-5 and the Evansville Freedom Festival Airshow in
Indiana on June 11-12.
Blue Angels pilot Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Davis died at a 2007 air show
in South Carolina when he briefly lost control of his No. 6 jet and
it went down.