CHERRY POINT — Two U.S. Navy Blue Angels pilots roared in Friday on an F/A-18 Hornet to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point to prepare for the 2018 air show.
The Blue Angels, the world’s premier aviation aerobatics team, will headline the three-day event May 4-6, 2018, at MCAS Cherry Point. Blue Angel 7 pilots Lt. Andre Webb and Lt. Dave Steppe arrived around 11:20 a.m. aboard the base after making a fuel stop in Knoxville, Tenn. They were previously in Waco, Texas, making similar preparations for an air show there.
Lt. Webb said the team was there to inspect facilities and take care of other preparations before next year’s show.
“We’re going to meet with all the folks here at Cherry Point and from the local community, make sure that we don’t have any unanswered questions and we’re going to make sure all the plans are moving in the right direction,” he said. “… We make sure that all the necessary things we’re going to use for the show, smoke oil so that people can see us flying, and also safety, make sure that the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) gets involved and make sure they are on top of things.”
Lt. Webb said this is also a time for him and Lt. Steppe to scope out the area and choose hotels for their stay.
MCAS Cherry Point was presented the 2016 Blue Angel Show of the Year award, beating out over 30 other air shows that year for the flight demonstration team’s top pick. Next year will be the first time the Blue Angels return to Cherry Point since then.
“Cherry Point did an awesome job, not just with the air field but with the community itself, and we’re excited to be back,” said Lt. Steppe. “We’re expecting an awesome air show, just like we had in 2016.”
The Blue Angels have been wowing audiences with their flight demonstrations since 1946. They fly in tight formations at speeds up to 700 mph, performing air aerobatics such as loops and rolls in their distinctive navy and yellow-colored aircraft.
The pilots said training for air shows is intensive, with pilots required to log 120 flights before they can perform. They often take two or three flights a day to practice. Despite this, Lt. Webb said it’s a great experience.
“The best part of our day is hopping in a jet and flying,” he said.
In addition to the Blue Angels flight team, the 2018 Cherry Point Air Show will feature a variety of military and civilian aerobatic demonstrations. For the first time, the Canadian Snow Bird jet aerobatics team will join the lineup. A full lineup of performers will be made available closer to the event. Admission and parking to the air show is free.
“The Blue Angels demonstration hasn’t changed much over the years, so I hope they (spectators) come out and watch our F/A teams fly fantastic,” Lt. Webb said. “… Come out and watch the show, enjoy us and all the rest of the performers.”
An array of other aircraft were aboard the station during the Blue Angel’s arrival conducting exercises.