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Blue Angels Schedule

Blue Angels Begin 2015 Winter Training

It is a new year, and your U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels,
are already hard at work preparing for the 2015 air show season. Last
week we relocated the entire squadron from our headquarters in
Pensacola, Florida to our annual training facility in sunny El Centro,
California, and we are thrilled to be back in the skies doing what we do
best!
The week has begun with an aggressive flight schedule – two to three
flights a day for both the Diamond formation (which includes Boss and
pilots 2, 3 and 4) and the Solos (pilots 5 and 6). Flying the
demonstration is a physically demanding task, and practicing this many
times a day – from sunup to sundown – means every member of the team
must bring their “A” game.
With our flight schedule in full force, I was offered a chance to
take a backseat ride today. This was my first one with the 2015 team,
and although our new pilots have only been flying training flight
together for a week, they are already looking sharp. Flight training
begins by practicing formation flying and basic maneuvers. With each
flight, our new team sets the building blocks for more complicated
maneuvers. But there are no “easy” flights – every flight requires
precision and total concentration. During these initial flights the
pilots learn what markers on the jet to focus on (Also known as “flying
paint” – for many maneuvers, pilots 2 and 3 fly formation by focusing
their eyes on specific points on Boss’ jet) and how to move the plane
for each particular maneuver. By our first show March 14, they will have
flown more than 120 training flights; the culmination of those flights
at the El Centro Air Show will demonstrate the world-renowned eighteen
inch wingtip-to-canopy separation the Blue Angels are known for.
As the Public Affairs Officer, I am fortunate to often be granted the
opportunity of flying in the backseat during practices. I’m often asked
“What is it like to ride in the back of a jet?” This can be tough to
explain, but I’ll try. Think of it as trying to drive a car while
someone continues to add and remove sacks of flour on your body. These
sacks each weigh the same weight as your body. For some maneuvers, the
pilots will experience 7 g’s (G is short for gravitational force) – the
equivalent of 7 of those sacks of flour pushing down on you!
During today’s practice, the team focused on maneuvers that are
relatively low G, mostly two to three. Although it doesn’t sound like
much, don’t be fooled! After an hour in the backseat, I emerged from the
jet covered in sweat and shaking with the effort of sustaining
alternating low G forces. It made me appreciate the efforts our pilots
go through – the same efforts Navy pilots around the world face around
the world, around the clock. It isn’t an easy job – but they make it
look that way!
We will be periodically checking back in to Navy Live to update you
on the team’s progress. This is America’s Navy, and the Blue Angels are your
flight demonstration team. It is an honor and a privilege to wear the
Blue Angel flight suit, and we will continue to work hard to perform to
the standards set by our predecessors all the way back in 1946. Wish us
luck and clear skies!

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