PENSACOLA BEACH, FL (WALA) –
This is the biggest weekend of the summer on Pensacola Beach. It’s time again for the Blue Angels Pensacola Beach Air Show. It’s one of several shows the Blues perform throughout the year, but this one in front of the hometown crowd is a favorite for all.
The sights and sounds of a Blue Angels show can only be described as phenomenal. Thousands of spectators turn out every year for the show at the beach to be treated to the best pilots in the world doing spectacular maneuvers over the emerald waters of Pensacola Beach. Fans were already lining up Thursday, July 12, 2018 to get a preview of the show.
“My father flew for the Navy on Corsairs off the Lexington so I have a real passion for Pensacola and the Nave and those Angels,” said Cheryl Weir.
“Here to visit my family and see the Blue Angels fly,” said Dawn Eckard. “It’s been on my bucket list for years. I’m so excited.”
It takes the best of the best to pull off the precision air maneuvers we see and the pilot that gives the commands is known as “Boss.” Commander Eric Doyle holds that position and because the Blues rotate out personnel every three years, this will be his first show over Pensacola Beach.
“I’m excited. You know Pensacola is home and we spend a lot of time out at that beach on the ground so we did circles yesterday and got to fly over the beach in blue and gold airplanes and it was a lot of smiles on everyone’s faces yesterday. It’s a real treat,” Doyle said.
There are 130 sailors and marines that make up the Blue Angels team. The F/A-18 Hornets perform at speeds from 120 to 700 miles per hour during the shows but can reach speeds of twice that. Valued at 21 million dollars apiece, meticulous care is taken to make sure the planes are in tip top shape. It’s not just the pilots that are at the top of their field, but also the support staff.
“We all have a sense of accomplishment because we know that without the 130 staff we have here, it wouldn’t be possible for them to fly,” explained Petty Officer 1st Class, Derrious Austin, in charge of logistics. “The fact that we get to see on the news and the children around the world that are thrilled and their families come out to see us…the fact that we’re allowed to make that possible gives us a sense of accomplishment.”
The Blues will take to the skies again Friday, July 13, 2018 for a last practice run before Saturday’s 2:00 p.m. show. Friday’s practice will include a civilian air show which is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. If you plan on attend the shows, getting a very early start is recommended. Traffic will be very congested heading to the beach.