Team to be flying at base for first time in four years
|Blue Angel No.7 arrives at Cherry Point on
Thursday. Two members of the Navy demonstration team came to visit
Cherry Point to begin planning for the 2016 Cherry Point Air Show,
scheduled for April 29, April 30 and May 1.
When Blue Angels pilots arch their F-18s over the top of a giant loop during the 2016 Cherry Point Air Show, the big X below them at the nation’s largest Marine Corps air station will be a familiar sight.
Cherry Point’s four converging, 8,000-foot long runways are unmistakable.
“It is definitely very visually significant to see that from the air,” said Lt. Tyler Davies, narrator and pilot for the Blue Angels. “Not many airfields are designed like that. A lot of them are parallel runways or just single runways, so as you come in to look for that runway, it’s easily identifiable from the air, which is very good.”
Davies was stationed at NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va., and was a flight instructor, making many trips into North Carolina to train at Cherry Point.
“I’m used to the base and used to the layout, which is awesome,” Davies said. “We’d fly in with students doing approaches and things like that.”
Davies and Capt. Corrie Mays, the events coordinator and squadron Naval flight officer of the Blue Angels, arrived at Cherry Point for pre-show planning Thursday in the Blue Angels No. 7 plane.
It will be the first time in four years that the Navy’s premier jet demonstration team has come to Cherry Point.
“It just makes us more excited to come back, and hopefully people will be more excited to come out and see us,” Mays said.
Davies and Mays met members of the press at Marine Transport Squadron 1 where the two-seat Blue Angels jet stayed overnight.
“We’re here to do what’s called our winter visit for the 2016 show,” Mays said. “We’re here to get eyes on all the facilities that we’re going to use, whether it is the briefing rooms, the maintenance spaces, the airfield, the show line, the center point, where all the jets are going to park, where Fat Albert is going to park, find a hotel for the team, a gym for the team and most importantly just establish those face-to-face communications and relationships with those people who, after this weekend, will be doing all of our planning over the phone and on email, so it’s nice to be able to meet them in person.”
The pair arrived in the afternoon after a 45-minute flight from Baltimore. They started the day in Lynchburg, Va., where they planned show logistics.
Davies said many people are involved in the air show planning.
“We have FAA reps, tower reps, gymnasium, security liaison, airshow committee representatives,” he said. “The reason why we do this so early is we get all the questions answered for everything that goes on during an air show, so that when it’s time to put on an air show, it can go off without a hitch.”
The two pilots said the team is looking forward to returning to Cherry Point for the first time since 2012.
“It’s a huge airfield, which means we’re going to be able to have a lot of spectators out here. It’s going to be a great show,” Mays said. “The staff here and the show committee really know what they are doing. It was an extremely smooth process and an absolutely awesome show from start to finish, so that relationship we are absolutely looking to continue and hopefully have another great year. The only thing that would stop that would be the weather.”
The air show, which can bring in upwards of 150,000 spectators, is scheduled for April 29, 30 and May 1.
While Davies and Mays conduct planning, the pilots are at their home base in Pensacola, Fla., perfecting the aerial maneuvers that make up the team’s demonstration flight.
“We love having people come out to showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and the Marine Corps team,” Davies said. “The reason that we do that is to show everyone that the way that we operate is with precision with excellence.”