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A look inside Blue Angels, pilots and air framers

Cdr. Ryan Bernacchi, the commanding officer and flight leader of the Blue Angels, taking a picture with his plane.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) – More aircraft landed in Idaho Falls on Thursday in preparation for the Extreme Blue Thunder Air Show.

Two F-35 planes flew into town. The F-35 is a fifth-generation jet with stealth technology, advanced censors and avionics. It can go as fast as the speed of sound.  The pilot said it is the most advanced aircraft they have right now, and it is one of the leading aircraft with combat capability.

“Stealth is all part of the design, so everything you see on this aircraft is made and designed for a reason. That’s why it looks so clean when we’re outside and there’s not a whole lot of things hanging off of it. The paint has something to do with it as well. So it was designed to be very low absorbable to radars and it’s very good at what it does. It really is the full package and just being able to be a part of that and being able to fly it really is a dream come true,” said Maj. Will Amdreotta, a pilot and the commander of the F-35 Heritage Flight Team.

KIFI/KIDK also spoke with the top pilot in the U.S. Navy Blue Angels fleet about his experience andspoke with an air framer about the jet.

“To say it would ever get mundane or get old would definitely not be a true statement,” said Cdr. Ryan Bernacchi, the commanding officer and flight leader of the Blue Angels.

Bernacchi is an Iraq and Afghanistan war vet. He has served in the U.S. Navy for 21 years, and he is in his second year of leading the Blue Angels.

“We certainly never take for granted the opportunity to be a Blue Angel and to represent the Navy and Marine Corps. Bringing a little bit of the Navy and Marine Corps here to Idaho Falls is something that we take a great deal of pride in and are very humbled by,” Bernacchi said.

There are 130 Blue Angels on the team and 60 in Idaho Falls, and every member is essential.

“We work on flight controls. Anything that makes the jets go left, right, up or down. What you see them doing, all those crazy maneuvers, that’s what we work on to make sure everything works right. If we didn’t do our job, they wouldn’t be able to hit those positions right,” said Samuel Wiberg, a Blue Angels air framer who is also an Idaho native.

The members of this team had a variety of jobs within the Navy before becoming Blue Angels. They were pilots, administrators or the engineers who made sure all the parts are working just right.

“It’s a fly-by-wire system, so anytime the jet moves, it’s all electronic,” Wiberg said.

Blue Angels serve for two years. Then the sailors go back to the naval fleet to continue their service to the country.

“When we’re actually up flying, I would say my favorite part about it is the teamwork. When everybody is just really locked in and the cylinders are firing just right, that synchronicity is such a rewarding feeling — all that work coming together. But I would definitely say the biggest reward of the job is when we get out of the airplanes and we meet up with all the people that came out to watch and we see the reaction. You see the kids’ faces light up. There’s nothing better than that,” Bernacchi said.

The main event is two days away. The Extreme Blue Thunder Air Show is this Saturday and Sunday and will feature the Blue Angels as well as other performers.

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