Captain Jeff Kuss Aviation Scholarship
Captain Jeff "KOOCH" Kuss was a private pilot by the age of 15, but didn't stop there when it came to aviation and his pursuit of his dreams in the clouds. He was lucky enough to take flight lessons while still in high school. Jeff, a native of Durango, Colorado, graduated from Durango High School in 2002. He attended Fort Lewis College in Durango and graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics in 2006. He was a true Coloradan but left his home state to pursue a career as a Marine Corps Officer and pilot.
Commissioned in 2006 as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, Jeff received his Wings of Gold in November 2009 after completing flight school. Jeff was a standout student pilot and always willing to help others study or practice. As a top performer, he was selected to fly the F/A-18 Hornet. Jeff's first fleet squadron was Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 312 "Checkerboards" at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. He continued to excel and he subsequently graduated from U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) in 2012 and completed a combat deployment with Carrier Air Wing THREE aboard the USS Harry S. Truman. Jeff contributed to VMFA-312 earning the Robert M. Hanson Award as the Marine Corps Association Fighter Attack Squadron of the Year.
Seeking a new challenge, Jeff joined the Blue Angels in September 2014 where he began his duties as Narrator, Blue Angel Number 7, and then moved to Opposing Solo, Blue Angel Number 6, in 2015. Jeff was killed on June 2, 2016 while performing a rehearsal flight for the Great Tennessee Air Show in Smyrna, TN.
In honor of Jeff's service and sacrifice, The Wingman Foundation is proud to work with the Kuss family to share Jeff's legacy.
In May 2018, The Wingman Foundation will award a deserving applicant the opportunity to learn how to fly, just like Jeff did before joining the Marines.
who is Eligible to apply:
- Individuals must be current Colorado Residents
- Be at least 16 years of age, but no older than 25 years of age at the time of application. There are no exceptions to this; if you will not be 16 years old by March 31, 2018, then you are not eligible to apply
- Individuals under the age of 18 must provide parent or legal guardian written consent as part of the application
- Individuals currently enrolled in school will be required to provide quarterly grade reports and maintain at least a cumulative 3.0 grade point average
- At time of application, applicant must be able to pass at least a third class FAA medical examination for flight training. This certificate will only be requested once an individual has been selected for a scholarship, and does not need to be included with the application
eligible candidates must:
- Show viable means of transportation to selected FBO.
- Give permission to use your likeness on our social media outlets and website following your presentation of the scholarship.
- Self-report Financial Need. Applicant must demonstrate a need for financial assistance to progress toward his/her goal.
- Respond to the following essay prompt:
Jeff Kuss dreamed that aviation would enable him to achieve things and see places that were not possible in a life lived solely on the ground. How will you use aviation to ACHIEVE your dreams?
- Online form submission
- Compile a compelling, thoughtful, and genuine essay response
- Written essay (max 750 words) using the prompt above
- Resume which includes education, work, and public service history
- Copy of official high school transcript (and secondary education if applicable)
- Proof of Colorado residency (Driver's License or Official ID)
- Provide statement of financial need, viable transportation to airport and training
- Letter of recommendation from a character reference that can speak to applicant's experience and future potential
Email essay and all required documents to firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for a completed application package is March 31, 2018.
The Tennessean: Blue Angels Pilots Leave Smyrna, Return Home with Heavy Hearts, June 3, 2016
Durango Herald: Durango to mourn Blue Angels pilot Jeff Kuss on Saturday, June 9, 2016
Denver ABC 7: Blue Angels pilot Capt. Jeff Kuss buried in Durango, June 11, 2016
Durango Herald: Scholarship created to honor fallen Blue Angel pilot, June 1, 2017