It’s been seven years since the Blue Angels performed over the skies of Naval Air Station Patuxent River, but the aerial performance team is scheduled as the main attraction for the air show this June.
NAS Pax River will be open to the general public on Saturday, June 2, and Sunday, June 3, this year for its air show, with a preview show on Friday, June 1, for those invited from the military, first-responder community, defense community and selected school students.
The gates open at 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday with the first flights starting at 10 a.m. The Blue Angels are scheduled to perform at 3:30 p.m. on both days.
“It’s very exciting. The Blue Angels will be with us this year and I’m very confident they will be here,” Capt. Jason Hammond, commanding officer of Pax River, said this week at a meeting with the St. Mary’s County commissioners.
Having missed the last two air shows, NAS Pax River is on the Blue Angels’ preferred status, Hammond said.
The air show is still seeking sponsors and volunteers, the captain said.
“When we do this, we do open the gate,” Hammond said. So civilians can just drive onto the installation through Gate 1 and Gate 2 starting at 8 a.m., although sections of the base will be off limits. There will not be an identification check at the gates.
In addition to the Blue Angels, aerobatic champion Rob Holland is scheduled to perform along with the Geico Sky Typers, Art Nalls in a civilian Harrier, the Warrior Flight Team, Patty Wagstaff, Carol Pilon and the Third Strike Wing Walker, the P-51 Mustang vs. the F-4 Corsair, Bill Stein and his Sword of Excellence, the Shock Wave jet truck and the pyrotechnic act Tora Bomb Squad.
“Just got approved on that,” Hammond said of the Tora Bomb Squad act. “You’ll get to see some pyrotechnics during the air show, which is really exciting. A lot of hard work and approval goes into that, being able to do that on our installation.”
“This is a wonderful opportunity for our community. This is a huge event,” he said.
“Pyrotechnics will be different,” Commissioner Tom Jarboe (R) said, adding that he saw a similar show in South Africa.
“It will be fun to see,” Hammond said.
The last air show at Patuxent River that featured the Blue Angels was in 2011. They were expected to return in 2013, but the entire air show was canceled that year because of sequestration by the federal government in an effort to save money.
The Blue Angels were again scheduled for the air show in 2016, but after a fatal crash in Tennessee, the team was ordered to take more rest breaks between performances. The Patuxent River air show went on without the Blue Angels two years ago and brought about 23,000 attendees on both days. With the Blue Angels performing, crowds of 70,000 each day were expected.
Since their inception in 1946, the Blue Angels have performed for more than 427 million fans.