Lt. Tyler Davies, USN, pilot of No. 6 on the Blue Angels team, is pretty much every girl’s dream of ideal boyfriend, husband, son or brother. The thrilling nature of his job, the perfectly erect and impressive figure he cuts in his fitted blue uniform, the personable way he interacts with media and fans, the enthusiasm he displays for his job, the respect he affords friends and strangers alike – all of it wins him plaudits and praise.
But to one special girl, he’s “Daddy,” and she put his life in perspective for him when she told him recently on one of their necessarily rare “date” nights, “This is the best day of my life. I get to spend an hour with my dad. Just you and me.”
Those days don’t come around all that often for Davies and the other Blues and their families, since they are in the air, or making preparation to be in the air, 300 days out of the year, with some Mondays off. That demanding schedule is part of the deal for the three years they are living out a special dream.
Davies and his high school sweetheart wife, the woman he gives credit to for his role as a Blue Angel, are the parents of a daughter and a son, who are 8 and 6 years old. Davies, along with his fellow pilots and support team, knows those special moments with family are precious to him; however, being told his mere presence has turned an otherwise pretty average day into the best of her young life is a memory provided by his little girl that he couldn’t stop beaming about as he related it to a group of reporters just a couple of days before last weekend’s Pensacola Beach Air Show.
Davies grew up in Kennesaw, Ga., graduating from North Cobb High School in 2000 and going straight in to the U.S. Navy. The son of a general aviation pilot, he says he “flew a lot in the back seat with my dad, but everything I ever learned aviation wise, I learned from the Navy.”
Last summer, he was part of the Pensacola Beach Air Show as the narrator, so the 2017 show was his first experience as a pilot in the celebration, and he flew in the opposing solo position.
“I can’t put into words how excited I am. We did circles over the beach Wednesday and there was already a packed beach,” he said Thursday as he stood in front of the line of six gleaming blue and yellow-gold planes and answered reporters’ questions about his job.
Quizzed about the experience of doing a show in the Blues’ home base, Davies said, “It has that home field advantage. It’s awesome. Pensacola, as a city, waits for us to come home every Sunday night. The motivation is out there. The flags are out there. The people are out there. There’s stuff all over the buildings. It’s such a pump for Pensacola.
“We can’t wait for the Pensacola Beach show. Our guys are flying. Our guys and girls on the team are there, showcasing what the Navy and Marine Corps do on a daily basis. The students who come through here, enlisted, officers, pilots, back seaters — you name it — every person in every walk trains here in the cradle of naval aviation, and we get to showcase what that is. It’s such an amazing experience. You fly over the beach and see how many boats are out there. There are so many who come who aren’t even from Pensacola.”
Noting that his first experience with air shows came when he was about 6 years old, he gave credit to the excited faces of children and teens he sees in the crowd line for putting him on Cloud Nine, “pumped up and ready to rock. Any time you’re feeling down, if you’ve had a bad flight, or bad weather, you get to that crowd line and see the young faces, and their jaws are on the ground, and they can’t believe they are this close to a Blue Angel.
“We’ll never experience how many people we’ve influenced, but maybe someday someone will come up and say, ‘Hey, you don’t know me, but 15 years ago at an air show, you motivated me to go do something awesome, and I just wanted to say thanks.’
Hopefully, we’ll experience that (even though) it’s not what we strive for. We just want to motivate people to go pick a dream that is so unbelievably difficult that when they arrive at it, it’s just so cool, so awesome.”
Not only was the Blue Angels team busy with preparation for a performance they wanted to be perfect for the home town venue last week, they were also choosing new team members who will soon become part of the three-year rotational. Davies said his responsibilities in that duty had made him a sort of father figure to those hoping to become part of Blues’ family.
Referring to the hours spent interviewing candidates, he said it had been a very stressful week, “because we genuinely, genuinely, genuinely care about selecting the right person for the job. To bring them down here and put them through every avenue of what the pilots go through, all these different avenues take a big toll on our time, but we owe it to the next generation of people coming in to showcase what we can do.
“I am the father figure to them, and you grow close to them. You realize they have personal traits, but it’s a team decision,” he said of the final selection, which was to have taken place Thursday night. “Tonight is the night we come in from practice and sit in a room, and we don’t come out until we have a team.”
Davies recalled his own emotions at learning he had been selected to have a dream come true. He said the overwhelming feeling he still experiences, each time he walks toward his jet and sits down in the pilot’s seat, is pride.
“I feel like a kid in a candy store. It’s such a short stint of our lives to be able to do something like this. To be the one selected — how many people actually get to achieve that dream?”
That attitude of pride and gratitude, he said, are the emotions that motivate him and his fellow pilots to encourage those coming on behind them.
“It’s a pretty cool experience and to continually be like, ‘Guys, you can do it, too.’ To put your wings out and just scoop people up and motivate and inspire. It’s a very cool experience. I’m a very firm believer, if someone senior or older says, ‘I think you can do it,’ sometimes that’s all people need. Little drops, every once in a while. Keep the fight. Keep the fight and, eventually, they become self-motivating and they help someone else.”
Of his own unique opportunity, thanks to that same kind of encouragement, those same “little drops,” Davies said, “This is absolutely a dream come true to me. I put my dreams in a rocket launcher and aimed at the stars and hit the button and said, ‘I’m going to go.’”
Now it’s no longer just his head in Cloud Nine. It’s every part of him — full of pride, enthusiasm and gratitude, and bursting through that cloud in a gleaming jet.
No. 6, to be exact.