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Blue Angels, F-16 Viper to headline Smoky Mountain Airshow

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The Navy Blue Angels will be smoke-on over the Great Smoky Mountain Air show April 16 and 17, 2016, as they headline the inaugural event filled with live music and entertainment

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will be smoke-on over the Smoky Mountain Air show this weekend as they join Air Force F-16 to headline the inaugural event filled with live music and entertainment.

The Air Force F-16 Viper Demo Team and the Navy’s Blue Angels will headline the Smoky Mountain Airshow April 16 and 17.

Great weather is expected over the first Knoxville
air show in 16 years as the Navy’s premiere flight demonstration
squadron performs on Saturday and Sunday before an estimated 42,000-plus
guests. The Blues will be joined by the Air Force F-16 Viper
Demonstration Team and several top civilian aerobatic performances at
the McGhee Tyson Airport.

The F-16 Viper Demonstration Team arrived two hours following the
Blue Angels arrival at the adjacent Tennessee Air National Guard Base on
Thursday. Lead by pilot Major Craig “Rocket” Baker, the F-16 is a
multi-role fighter used around the globe.

“It’s gonna be loud, it’s gonna be fast,” Rocket said proudly upon
arriving at the base. “My profile takes me from 200 feet above the
ground to 15,000 feet. From a slow speed of 115 knots to close to the
speed of sound all with 15 minutes and within a mile of the airport.”

Major Baker added one of his favorite moments of the air show will be
the Air Force Heritage Flight as he performs a formation flight three
feet away from a World War II-era P-47. “It is a really unique way to
honor those who have gone before us and fought for the freedoms we have
today, and those who are fighting today,” he added. “If you don’t get
chills while you watch it then check your pulse because it’s pretty
special.”

The Blue Angels are early into their 35 show site schedule as they
celebrate the squadron’s 70th anniversary season. The team’s six blue
and yellow F/A-18 Hornets and the crowd favorite C-130T known as a Fat
Albert are scheduled to perform beginning at 3 p.m. both days.

“It’s a first time for the air show and we’re so excited,” said Angel
5 lead solo pilot LT. Ryan Chamberlin moments after the team’s arrival
into Knoxville on Thursday. “It’s one thing to go to a city we visit
every year, it’s another to go to a city that’s been starved of an air
show for so long — in fact for over a decade. We’re really excited for
the weekend.”

Lead by first year Commander and Boss Ryan J. Bernacchi in Angel 1,
the Diamond Team includes LT. Matt Suyderhoud, LT. Lance Benson, LT.
Andy Talbott. The dynamic two solo pilots who push the envelope of what
the Hornet can do are LT. Chamberlain and opposing solo Capt. Jeff Kuss.

As the aircraft soar overhead, many current and past aircraft are
scheduled to be on static display. The Air Force F-22 Raptor, a 21st
century stealth fighter, and the Marines AV-8 Harrier will not fly and
instead allow guests an up close look at the two premiere aircraft.

Also on the air show grounds is the Smoky Mountain Kids Area where
youngsters can play and take part in activities and games for a few
prizes during the day. Gates open at 10:00 a.m. and event organizers
stress for guests to bring cash as food stands will not take credit. The
parking areas will open earlier at 8:00 a.m.

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