Pilots with the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration squadron and performers of some of the most acclaimed air shows in the world, arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort on Thursday evening to plan a show at the base set for April.
Lt. Cary Rickoff and Lt. Commander Adam Kerrick, representing planes No. 7 and 8 from the eight-man flight team, touched down at the air station in Rickoff’s F/A-18 Hornet at 5 p.m.
The Blue Angels are in their off-season, a time that is spent visiting show sites to coordinate the logistics of each performance.
″(There are) a lot of logistics,” Kerrick said. “We have eight aircraft we have to get to and from locations. And we have about 80 men and women that we have to get from point A to point B. So there’s a lot of challenges and a lot of details, but we’re pretty detail-oriented, so hopefully everything goes on without a hitch.”
The duo arrived from their previous stop in Davenport, Iowa, a flight they said took only about 90 minutes. Almost half the time was spent preparing to land in a very cloudy Beaufort County.
Rickoff said they would spend the night before coordinating with air show officials Friday morning and return to the squadron’s base in Pensacola, Fla., later in the day.
The Atlanta native graduated from Duke University in 2009 with a biological anthropology and anatomy degree and earned his commission as an ensign in the U.S. Navy.
Rickoff began as a member of the Blue Angels in September. His decorations include a Strike Flight Air Medal, three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and various other unit and personal awards.
Kerrick, who grew up in the Philadelphia area, also is only two months into his time with the squadron.
The U.S. Naval Academy graduate has a degree in political science and is an Eagle Scout and former firefighter. He has received three Air Medals and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals among various other awards.
Rickoff said the process of becoming a Blue Angel involves an application and subsequent vetting period.
“Every Blue Angel seeks out that position. No one is pulled to the Blue Angels,” he said.
Rickoff doesn’t consider himself a “celebrity” despite the rare distinction.
“It’s a privilege to be on the team and we’re honored to be a part of this,” he said. “I never thought I’d be here. And to do a show with the Navy and the Marine Corps aviation and what we can do as a team, it’s very special.”
The pilots explained that each show the squadron performs is identical to the next for the sake of safety.
“One of the things we pride ourselves on is taking that same air show week-in and week-out and just kind of popping it on a different city and show site,” Rickoff said. “The more things we can make standardized here, the better that is.”
The Beaufort Air Show will host the Blue Angels for the first time since 2017 on April 27 and 28 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. The show is open to the public and no tickets are required.