Syracuse Air Show goes on this Weekend Under Veil of Tribute to Deceased Blue Angels Pilot

Jun 10, 2016

Military aircraft, such as this F-16, will be part of Syracuse International Air Show this weekend, which is going forward despite the cancellation of the Navy Blue Angels, following the June 2nd accident and death of one of their pilots.

  People interested in planes and aviation can climb inside many types of aircraft and see aerial demonstrations at the Syracuse International Air show this weekend.  They can also pay tribute to a Navy Blue Angels Stunt Pilot who died in an accident last week…and who was scheduled to fly here in Syracuse.  

Aviation Commissioner Christina Callahan had to consider whether to cancel the show due to the tragedy.  But she realized the air show community was shocked by the news.

“The same performers perform at a lot of the same air shows, so they see each other throughout the course of an air show season.  The civilian performers, the other military teams, they’re part of a tight-knit group.  I can only imagine how they felt, knowing that one of their own had lost his life.”

Instead of cancelling, the show has become a tribute to Captain Jeffrey Kuss.  Callahan says it’s not only for his loss, but for his heroism in death.

“We learned just recently, Captain Kuss deliberately didn’t eject and crashed the plane where he did so that there would be minimal loss of life on the ground, which there wasn’t any.  So, true sacrifice that he made.”

The Blue Angels were scheduled to be part of the show at Syracuse Hancock Airport, but cancelled the appearance after the accident.  Following the tragedy, several air show acts approached Syracuse to become part of the event to pay tribute to Kuss, adding to this weekend’s lineup. 

“Without even asking, we were approached by 3 other performers just in the last few days, and they said, ‘We want to come to your air show.  We knew Captain Kuss; we want to be part of your show,’ And they’re coming.  And it’s incredible to me, but not surprising, the amount of support.”

(Full Air Show Schedule Below)

Callahan says the closest most people get to airplanes is when they board or disembark from a passenger jet.  But the air show will have numerous military and historic planes on the ground for people to see to get inside. 

Downtown Syracuse workers and visitors heard and saw some of the planes coming in for the air show arriving and taking training flights over the city Thursday and Friday.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

  “Our field is going to be filled with static aircraft from the Air Force, from the Navy from the 10th Mountain Division.  We have helicopters coming down from Fort Drum.  I think people will really be amazed at what they see on the ground.”

Of course the real attraction and excitement happens overhead. 

“Whether it’s to see the Warbird era aircraft, whether it’s to see the military aircraft, whether it’s to see the stunt performers like the wing-walkers, it’s just such an exciting event that doesn’t come around that often.  In light of what happened, I think people will come out to pay their respects to Captain Kuss, to show their support for the military, because they make the ultimate sacrifice every day.” 

Callahan notes it took a lot of cooperation from federal agencies, such as the FAA and TSA, as well as commercial airlines, which had to adjust some flight schedules.  But she emphasizes the safety of the passenger operation is paramount even with the event. 

The Syracuse International Air Show starts at 9:00 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday, with aerial acts and demonstrations starting at 10:00 each day.  Tickets and information are at   

Air Show Schedule. More on individual performers at