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Blues in the City speaker series kicks off on Wednesday

In this archived photo from July 11, 2016, former Pensacola Naval Air Station Commanding Officer and former Lead Solo Keith Hoskins, right, and Blue Angels No. 5 Lt. Ryan Chamberlain answer questions from the public during an event in Pensacola. Blues in the City will resume Wednesday.

A popular speaker series featuring current and former Blue Angel pilots will return to downtown Pensacola on Wednesday.

Blues in the City started in 2016 as part of the Pensacola-based flight demonstration team’s 70th anniversary season.

Organizers decided to continue the event this year because it was so successful, said Vernon Stewart, spokesman for the city of Pensacola.

The city partnered with the Blue Angels and the Blue Angels Association, an association of former Blue Angels pilots, to create the speaker series.

Blue Angels pilots Lt. Damon Kroes and Lt. Nate Scott will kick off the 2017 series at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Plaza de Luna, 900 S. Palafox St. The pilots will talk about their roles as the team’s wingmen.

“We thought this was a good way to bring the Blue Angels closer to the local community,” said Stewart, who thanked the Blue Angels and the association of former Blue Angels pilots for helping to organize the series.

Audience members will have a chance to ask questions, and the pilots will be available for autographs afterwards, Stewart said.

Lt. Joe Hontz, spokesman for the Blue Angels, said the speaker series is a fun way for the pilots to spend time with the local community.

“The Blues in the City events last year were a great way for the team to engage with the Pensacola community, and we wanted to continue our interaction with the public,” Hontz said. “We want the community to come to these events and ask questions and get to know the team.”

The 2016 season included a Solos in the City event featuring a current Blue Angels solo pilot and former Blue Angels solo pilot Capt. Keith Hoskins, who had recently retired as the commander of Pensacola Naval Air Station.

Questions from fans included whether the pilots notice the crowds on the ground during performances and whether there will ever be a female Blue Angels F/A-18 pilot.

The pilots said they do notice the crowds and that it is just a matter of time before the first female is selected to fly in the six-jet formation.

Organizers will announce future Blues in the City events throughout the 2017 season.

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