VERO BEACH — The Blue Angels were excited Monday to be back in Vero Beach.
Capt. Corrie Mays and Lt. Tyler Davies flew an iconic blue and yellow Boeing F/A-18 Hornet in and out of the Vero Beach Regional Airport to prepare for the Vero Beach Air Show June 25-26.
“The purpose of us being here today is to basically start off the planning,” said Mays during a short news conference after they landed. “We have a lot of important work to do.”
Without any dramatic loops or turns for which they’re known, Mays and Davies flew in from the east straight over the airport before circling to land.
Mays and Davies waved from the cockpit as they slowly rolled past the spectators, most of whom were taking photographs and videos.
“We saw all the crowds that were over there,” Davies said. “It was so awesome. It pumped both of us up. We had the biggest smiles on our faces.”
After shaking hands with people on the runway and briefly meeting with members of the media, Davies and Mays toured the airport and learned about its operations, such as the number of the fuel trucks, the plan for parking, the designated spectator area and fog control.
About 80 of the 130 members of the Blue Angels squadron are expected to be at the air show, Mays said. She and Davies also explored the hotel and gym facility the squadron will be using while in Vero Beach.
“We have quite a footprint when we’re here in town for the weekend,” Mays said. “By us being here today, we’re going to make sure that everything is off to a great start.”
Mays and Davies planned to make as many connections as possible Monday because the Blue Angels won’t be back until the air show.
“It’s always great to have those face-to-face relationships set ahead of time,” Mays said.
More than 100 people of all ages lined the fence in front of C.J. Cannon’s Restaurant at the airport to watch Mays and Davies take off at 1:35 p.m.
Mays — a Cape Cod, Massachusetts, native new to the team — is one of 20 women Blue Angels. She said Capt. Katie Higgins, who flies the “Fat Albert” C-130 plane, was the first female to fly for the squadron.
“I grew up in an aviation family, so it was always something I loved,” Mays said.
Davies — an Atlanta, Georgia, native also new to the team — knew he wanted to be part of the Blue Angels since he first saw them at age 6.
He saw a small boy dressed from head to toe in a tiny Blue Angels uniform saluting them Monday as they landed.
“It just makes my heart smile,” Davies said. “It’s so awesome.”