IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – The Blue Angels flew in from Pensacola, Florida, Friday morning and landed at the Idaho Falls Regional Airport. Media got a small glimpse of the much anticipated air show that will makes its way to the public this summer.
It’s been years since the U.S. Navy’s precision aerobatic team has performed in Eastern Idaho. The last show took place in 2010, attracting 45,000 people.
The team, originally was scheduled to meet in January but unsafe weather conditions prompted it to reschedule the visit.
While in Idaho Falls, Navy Lts. Brandon Hempler and Dave Steepe will meet with city officials to review technical and tactical logistics for the show, including airport operations, safety and security protocols.
The extreme Blue Thunder Air show will be headlined by the Blue Angels flying their signature blue and gold trimmed F/18 Hornet fighter jets.
Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper said she was very excited to have this event revisit Idaho Falls.
“I think I speak for the community when I say we are looking forward to one of the biggest events of the year, having the Blue Angels here again is an honor. Without the local support, this event wouldn’t be possible,” Casper said.
Hempler said pilots and naval officers go through an intense training schedule for two years before performing. Training occurs in El Centro, California. The Angels will take to the air on March 11 in El Centro.
Russell J. Johnson, chairmen of the board for the Idaho Falls Air show, said Idaho Falls beat out some of the largest cities in the country for the weekend of July 22 and 23, including Thunder over Michigan, because of our after action report.
“Yes, it took about a year and half of preparation. And it will pay off. The 2010 visit attracted thousands. For example, on Saturday alone the event attracted 43,000 people and on Sunday 20,000 people. With the success of 2010 we expect a lot,” Johnson said.
Russell said they learned what not to do at the first event and are better prepared for the 2017 air show.
“Many lessons learned such as the water issue we faced. The same issue isn’t going to happen in 2017. We are going to let people bring in a sealed clear plastic bottle of water into the event. There will be plenty of water guests can purchase. We are not going to have a water problem in 2017,” Johnson said.
Johnson said they are taking on preparations that people don’t even think about.
“It’s a huge deal and it takes hundreds of volunteers and organizers to put on the show,” Johnson said.
The city is taking extra precautions to ensure safety.
“Because of all the national tragedies that have happened across the U.S. we are increasing security. I can’t even tell the stuff we have because some of it is classified. For the first time in Idaho Falls we are going to have classified security happening on the ground that nobody will know about,” Johnson said.
The mission of the Blue Angels is to showcase the pride and professionalism of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach.
Online tickets sales will begin this March.
The Blue Angels last appeared in Idaho Falls in 2010. The event generated $20 million and $250,000 was contributed to the Mayor’s Youth Scholarship Fund.