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Navy identifies fallen aviator

Story Highlights

• Blue Angels aviator killed in crash identified as Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Davis
• Pilot's family watched as jet crashed in final minutes of air show
• The jet clipped the top of a pine tree during a sharp turn, a military source said
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BEAUFORT, South Carolina (CNN) -- The military Sunday identified the U.S. Navy Blue Angels aviator who died in Saturday's crash as Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Davis.

Davis was a native of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, said Lt. Cmdr. Garrett Kasper, spokesman for the Blue Angels.

Military officials said Davis was an 11-year Navy veteran and a member of the Blue Angels for nearly two years. He also flew in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, which centers on Afghanistan. (Watch Robin Meade of Headline News remember her flight with Davis Video)

Davis' family was among those watching as his F/A-18 Hornet plummeted, said Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Walley, a fellow Blue Angels pilot.

The crash Saturday, during a precision-flying team demonstration, injured eight people on the ground and damaged eight structures, said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Sarah Kansteiner, a military spokesperson, Sunday. None of the injuries is life threatening, she said.

The air show continued Sunday without the Blue Angels, but with a tribute to the pilot who was killed, said Kansteiner. (Watch the Missing Man formation, details of crash Video)

The plane went down at 4 p.m. ET in a Beaufort, South Carolina, neighborhood about three miles from the Marine Corps Air Station, which is hosting the two-day show.

The jet clipped the top of a pine tree during a sharp turn at the end of the team's aerial exhibition, a military source said. The crash sent a plume of smoke into the sky, which the five other jets in the formation then circled. (Watch possible factors in the crash Video)

The weather was clear in Beaufort on Saturday, said CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras. Beaufort is located along the Atlantic coast between Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina.

The site has been secured for 36 hours while an investigation is conducted, said William Winn, director of Beaufort County Emergency Management.

"This is difficult for us," Winn said. He called Beaufort "a close-knit community" where people are tight with their neighbors.

Witnesses describe crash

Fred Yelinek was working on a well pump when the Blue Angels flew overhead "in a full, tight formation," he said.

"And then four or five minutes later, I hear them coming again, expecting to see pretty much the same thing, but I didn't hear any strange noises, and then it was the crashing sound of pieces of the airplane coming through the trees in the yard across the street."

The plane hit a stand of pine trees across the street from where Yelinek was working, he said. The crash caused an "earth-shattering rumble," sparking a "huge fireball" and sending piece of the jet hurtling into the neighborhood, said Yelinek, who estimates he was about 100 yards from where the jet made its initial contact with the trees.

Parts of the plane hit homes and smashed car windshields, Yelinek said, but he didn't see any houses or cars catch fire. Most of the pieces of debris were about the size of his hand, he said. (Map)

Photos from the crash site show a street littered with debris, some of it resembling blown-out tires. Nearby trees were on fire. There were no large chunks of debris.

"There's a lot of houses on all four corners of that intersection. And there was a lot of fire at that intersection, and continuing thereafter," Yelinek said. "Most people were very shaken, but unhurt."

Gerald Popp of Beaufort said the jets had been flying their formations for about five minutes when "I saw him go down lower than the trees, and next I saw a big, black cloud of smoke." (Watch the damage left by the crash Video)

Pam and Bill Edwards said they were watching the air show from the media stand when they realized something had gone awry.

"We counted four planes landing, and there was one circling in that smoky area right over the crash site," Bill Edwards said. "I looked around the sky, and there was nothing else there. Then we saw the emergency helicopter go up, and we automatically assumed the worst at that point."

The most recent crash involving the Blue Angels was in 1999 in Georgia. Two aviators were killed when their F/A-18 jet crashed while trying to land during a training flight. (Watch the story of the Blue Angels Video)

The Blue Angels, founded in 1946, perform for an estimated 15 million people at air shows last year.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Davis was killed in Saturday's crash at an air show in Beaufort, South Carolina.



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