MILLINGTON, TN (WMC) – The Blue Angels visited the Mid-South to prepare for their upcoming show and inspire young Navy hopefuls in the area.
Unfortunately, fog grounded their fighter jet in Millington, but there was still fun to be had.
With 70 years of aviation excellence, the Blue Angels fly to showcase the pride of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. A total of 17 officers serve voluntarily.
Two pilots were in Millington in advance of the Memphis Air Show, which is coming in May. It’s been three years since their last show.
Despite the weather, the crowd came out in full force. Debbie Smith said she has been watching the Blue Angels since she was six years old when her father was in the service. Her family continued their tradition and drove down from Tipton County to meet the team.
“Every time they came to where he was stationed, we went to see the Blue Angels,” Smith said.
Her grandson Hunter May enjoys the thrill of seeing the Boeing FA18s race through the air.
“When they do those crazy stunts, when they cross and almost crash into each other, it’s dangerous,” he said.
Lt. Brandon Hempler said that while serving in the Navy or Marine Corps, pilots with a dream of becoming a Blue Angel must submit an application as they would any other job.
“And then we interview with the team, and if you’re selected it’s one of the happiest days of your life,” Hempler said.
Safety is always a top priority. Hempler said nervousness is always part of the show.
“It’s good to have a little bit of nervousness so you know you’re doing it right,” he said.
Lt. David Steppe believes community outreach sets the Blue Angels apart from any other air show team.
“Inspiring that 3 or 4-year-old kid who comes up and spending if it’s two minutes, then they got to spend two minutes with a Blue Angel,” Steppe said.