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Blue Angels touch down in Corpus Christi to plan air show

A boom could be heard in the sky over Naval Air Station Corpus Christi as a jet became visible. Soon, the classic Blue Angels jet made its way down the runway which meant one thing — it’s time to plan another Wings Over South Texas show.

Two Blue Angel pilots, Lt. Brandon Hempler and Lt. David Steppe, paid a winter visit to the air base Tuesday afternoon ahead of the 2017 Wings Over South Texas show in April.

The visit was a sort of homecoming for Hempler, who spent time as a flight instructor in Naval Air Station Kingsville. Hempler is preparing for his first tour with the Blue Angels.

“I’m thrilled to be back in South Texas,” he said. “As I was flying in … I got to see all the familiar sights instructing here and as a student here, so it’s great to be back.”

Wings Over South Texas was last held in Corpus Christi in 2015. Some of the acts were cancelled that year as heavy storms moved through the Coastal Bend.

“We’re doing all the rain dances and hoping we get clear weather (for this year’s show),” said Capt. Steve Banta.

The visit is intended to make sure base officials and Blue Angel pilots are on the same page before the highly anticipated event. Lt. Cmdr. David Hunt said Blue Angels are the only team on the schedule this year.

“We’ve got a very diverse set of acts,” Hunt said. “We’re celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway so we’ll have some World War II era aircrafts.”

Hempler said he and the other Blue Angel pilots are looking forward to the show. Base officials are hoping for a turnout of about 100,000 people.

“You’re going to get a traditional Blue Angels show that’s going to showcase the pride and professionalism of the Navy Marine Corps,” Hempler said.

Lt. David Steppe from the Blue Angels inspects a Boeing F/A-18 Hornet after arriving with Lt. Brandon Hempler on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi.

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