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Blue Angels wow thousands at NAS Oceana Air Show

NAS OCEANA, Virginia — The F/A-18’s booming engines could do little
to best the crowd’s thunderous roar as the famed Blue Angels brought the
first day of flight demonstrations to a fitting end.
The team,
which is led by Capt. Tom Frosch, wowed tens of thousands in attendance.
Wing tips were at arm’s reach while the team executed the diamond 360,
diamond aileron roll, the double farvel (a diamond in which two pilots
are inverted), and the six-ship delta roll. Pilots on hand appreciated
skills displayed by the opposing knife edge, opposing horizontal rolls,
and the fortus (an upside down jet mirroring a second jet on landing
approach). And just to keep everyone on their toes, the team threw in a
couple of sneak approaches that neared the speed of sound.
While
the Blue Angels are a fitting finish to any air show, they were far from
the only draw. The Oceana air show is the only one to feature an F/A-18
Hornet fleet tactical demonstration, which was performed by the local
squadrons. An F-35C Joint Strike Fighter was on hand, the SH-60 offered a
Special Operations insertion and extraction, and the Military Aviation
Museum showed that the British Spitfire, FG-1D Corsair, and AD-4
Skyraider still have some fight left in them.
Civilian participants included the GEICO Skytypers, Shockwave Jet Truck, and skydive team jumps.
The
highlight for Capt. Lou Schager, Oceana’s skipper, was not in the air,
but on the ground. The air show’s theme was “The Vietnam Veteran
– Service. Valor. Sacrifice.” Organizers took the opportunity to honor
Vietnam veterans and mark the war’s 50th anniversary.
Today’s
pilots have grown up in a community “where we were always welcomed and
had wonderful homecomings from our deployments. I know that wasn’t
always the case,” Schager told Navy Times. “Here is an opportunity where
we have hundreds of thousands of people to come out to recognize and to
thank these Vietnam veterans for their service, for their valor, and
their sacrifice.”
Event planners welcomed many local veteran
groups and the 50th Commemoration Committee from Washington, D.C.
But Schager wanted the recognition of these vets to go beyond the
formalities.
“I have personally talked to the thousands of
volunteers and security forces to make sure we reach out,” he said. The
captain’s orders were simple: “If you recognize there is a Vietnam
veteran walking up next to you, just stop them and say ‘hello’ and
‘thank you.’”
The fun didn’t stop when the flightline grew silent.
The air show hosts an annual Beach Blast that features a free concert
with the U.S. Fleet Forces Four Star Edition rock band along the ocean
front. Attendees can expect an F/A-18 Super Hornet after-burner flyover,
night parachute jumps, and an opportunity to meet the Blue Angels.
The
Oceana Air Show had a record crowd of 314,000 last year, and are
prepared for that many this year, Schager said. The air show wraps up
Sunday; organizers will start planning for next year’s show on Monday,
he said.

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