Home » Blue Angels Schedule » Flying high: Elkmont native named to Blue Angels
Blue Angels Schedule

Flying high: Elkmont native named to Blue Angels

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Zach Miller spent one semester at the University of Alabama in Birmingham in 2006 before deciding college just wasn’t for him. His grandmother would kill him if she knew he’d been talking to a Navy recruiter, so he told his grandfather about his plans instead. He could go, as long as the Navy put him to work doing something useful.
Fast forward 10 years and Miller is now a mechanic in what is perhaps the military’s most famous flying group: The Blue Angels.
The Navy announced Miller, an Elkmont native, was named to the elite flying unit on Feb. 11. He was presented an official crest and is now allowed to wear the squadron’s crest on his uniform.
“It’s an awesome experience,” Miller told The News Courier on Wednesday. “I never really thought I’d have the opportunity.”
When Miller joined the Navy, he wanted to do anything involving aviation. He’d been fascinated with jets and when the recruiter talked to him about being an airframes mechanic, they decided he’d found the useful job his grandfather was looking for.
Miller said he didn’t know much about the Blue Angels before he joined, but that everyone in naval aviation knew about them and talked about them with intense respect. The Blue Angels are famous for their nationwide demonstrations where the pilots fly in formation and perform stunts with amazing accuracy. Their shows draw thousands each year.
Miller knew it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to work with the Blue Angels, but didn’t seek out the opportunity in his early career. He rose through the ranks over the last decade, earning the title of AM1 (AW), an aircraft mechanic specializing in the frame of the plane and all of its hydraulic components.
Last March, his mentor and commanding officer talked to him about the Blue Angels application coming up. The squadron puts out an open call for application to the Navy and Marine Corps each year, but only selects a small percentage of applicants for three-year tours. The two decided they’d try out together, Miller for a position in the mechanics crew and his commander as the head of the maintenance division.
To apply for the Blue Angels, not only did Miller have to send in a detailed resume and pictures of himself in uniform, he had to spend a week at the Pensacola airbase, to see if he would work well with the crew. After acceptance, he spent more weeks training in the history of the Blue Angels and the special operations he would be expected to perform at air shows.
“It’s crazy kind of how it worked out,” he said. “It’s more fast-paced than anything I have ever done with the Navy.”
Miller is scheduled to travel with the Blue Angels to 10 shows this year. The closest show to Limestone County will be June 4-5 in Smyrna, Tennessee. His sons are ecstatic about their dad’s new job and Miller said he’s excited to interact with his and other children during his travels.
“That’s like, one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ll take away from this,” he said.
Miller just signed a six-year extension to his Naval enlistment. After his three years with the Blue Angels, Miller said he plans to apply for Officer Candidate School and earn the certification necessary to be a division maintenance leader.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: