Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Blue Angels Air Show at Pensacola Beach

Few events match the excitement of viewing a Blue Angels Air Show over Pensacola Beach. Where else can you see jets flying over 700 mph only 18 inches apart? Everybody but the pilots shake their heads and wonder, "How do they do that?"

The team's six demonstration pilots fly Boeing F/A-18 Hornets at close to 70 shows across the United States each year. Since 1946, they have drawn over 427 million spectators. The Blues were the first officially sanctioned military aerial demonstration team.

A seventh aircraft is used for backup and public relations work, sometimes taking members of the news media and other civilians (with connections) for stomach-churning rides.

Blue Angels Air Show

Members of the Blues are carefully selected from the best pilots in the Navy and Marines. They fly with the team for two years and then return to their service branch.

During the winter months new pilots and team members are trained at the Naval Air Facility El Centro, California.

The Blues are stationed in Pensacola from March until November, flying out of Pensacola Naval Air Station. The Blues practice twice a week while in Pensacola and the public is always welcome. Two formal air shows are scheduled in Pensacola each year.

If you plan on attending one of the two air shows, do yourself a favor and either plan on getting to the beach very early and staying late (before parking becomes impossible and after the worst of the crowd clears), or either use the trolley service that leaves between Casino Beach and Fort Pickens gate.

If you aren't able to see one of the air shows on your next vacation, try to schedule a visit to the Museum of Naval Aviation. The Blues have a section at the museum dedicated to them. Four of the aircraft are suspended in formation, and there is large display of Blue Angels memorabilia.

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