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Meet the daredevil pilots flying for the Blue Angels

Sorry. No Top Gun-style volleyball shots. But we did
track down head shots of the U.S. Navy’s six daredevil fighter jet
pilots who will be flying the U.S. Navy Blue Angels planes over San
Francisco Bay during Fleet Week 2015. These guys are well-educated,
well-decorated, and in phenomenal shape that allows them to withstand
g-forces. 

Capt. Thomas Frosch, Flight Leader & Commanding Officer

Member of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels since 2012 
Background: Native of Clinton Township, Mich.; graduated from U.S. Naval Academy in 1992 with a BS. in Engineering in 1992
Numbers: more than 3,800 flight hours and 830 carrier-arrested landings
Decorations: the
Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals, two
Individual Air Medals with Combat “V” (Six Strike Flight), three Navy
Commendation Medals, one with Combat “V,” and numerous unit, campaign,
and service awards 
Experience: Everything from flying
in support of Operation Allied Force in Kosovo to serving as Department
Head for Strike Fighter Squadron 192 (VFA-192), the “World Famous
Golden Dragons,” at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan.  Full bio
 

Lt. Matt Suyderhoud, Right Wing

Member of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels since 2014
Background: Honolulu native, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Saint Louis University in 2005 with a B.S. in Aviation 
Numbers: more than 1,800 flight hours and has over 320 carrier-arrested landings 
Decorations: two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and various personal and unit awards
Experience: 
from two deployments aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and USS Ronald
Reagan (CVN 76), and flew in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and
New Dawn to working as a flight instructor for the “Golden Eagles,” at
NAS Kingsville  Full bio

Lt. Andy Talbott, Left Wing

Member of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels since 2014
Background: native of Sedan, Kansas; graduated from Kansas State University (KSU) in 2005 with a B.S. in Airway Science
Numbers: more than 1,800 flight hours and 335 carrier-arrested landings
Decorations: a Strike Flight Air Medal, three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and various personal and unit awards.
Experience: two deployments aboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65), and flew in support of Operations New Dawn and Enduring Freedom Full bio

Lt. Cmdr. Nate Barton, Slot

Member of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels since 2012
Background: native of Hummelstown, Penn.; graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 2002 with a B.S. in Logistics


Numbers:
more than 2,300 flight hours, including 850 in the EA-6B
Prowler, more than 1,200 in the F/A-18 Hornet airframe, and 325
carrier-arrested landings. 

Decorations: a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and various personal and unit awards 

Experience:
Nate reported to Strike Fighter Attack Squadron 106 (VFA-106), the
“Gladiators,” at NAS Oceana, Virginia, in July 2009 for initial training
in the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. He returned to VAQ-129 in May 2010 as an
instructor pilot and was among the initial cadre of instructors who
began the Electronic Attack community transition from the EA-6B Prowler
to the new EA-18G Growler. Full Bio

Lt. Cmdr. Mark Tedrow, Lead Solo

Member of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels since 2011


Background:
native of Charleroi, Penn.; graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2004 with a B.S. in History. 

Numbers: more than 2,200 flight hours and 212 carrier-arrested landing 
Decorations: the Strike Flight Air Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various personal and unit awards 
Experience:
Mark reported to Strike Fighter Squadron 122 (VFA-122), the “Flying
Eagles,” at NAS Lemoore in November 2010 as an instructor pilot and also
served as Ground Safety Officer, Aviation Safety Officer, and LSO. Full bio

Lt. Ryan Chamberlain, Opposing Solo

Member of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels since 2012


Background:
native of Bloomington, Ill.; graduated from Southern Illinois University in 2003 with a B.S. in Aviation Management 

Numbers: more than 1,700 flight hours and 300 carrier-arrested landings
Decorations: two Strike Flight Air Medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and various personal and unit awards.
Experience: Ryan
reported to NAS Pensacola for aviation indoctrination in July 2006. He
completed primary flight training in the T-34C Turbo Mentor at NAS
Corpus Christi, Texas, and completed advanced flight training in the
T-45A Goshawk at NAS Kingsville, Texas. He received his wings of gold in
November 2008.  Full bio
—————————————————————————————————————–
Blame it on Top Gun. As a kid of the 80s, I watched this movie
about naval aviators dozens of times and was thrilled by the footage of
high-speed planes set to Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” (and of course I
replayed the volleyball scene endlessly on my VCR at home).
My enthusiasm for the Tom Cruise film evolved into an obsession for
the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, and in middle school, my best friend and I
collected Blue Angels trading cards, each containing a photo of a
handsome pilot. We both had a crush on one of the pilots and when we
attended Fleet Week at Moffett Field, we squeezed ourselves through the
crowd for a front-row view of the “tween heartthrob.”

These memories came to mind yesterday as I caught glimpses of the
Blue Angels practicing overhead on my way to my oldest daughter’s
school. As a kid who grew up with San Francisco’s Fleet Week, I knew the
names and faces of the pilots in the bright blue jets. My oldest
daughter is 12, about the age I was when I went to Moffett Field, and
while she has watched the air show nearly every year since she was born,
she has no idea who’s in the cockpit, and none of her friends have a
clue either.

Part of this is a result of pop culture. Hollywood has’t given us a Top Gun
in the past decade (though a remake is on the way). And some of this is
related to the U.S. Military’s decisions in recent years. My daughter
was born when the U.S. was bombing Iraq, bringing our country into a
controversial war, and like many Bay Area locals today, I grapple with
my enthusiasm for the Blue Angels because they represent a military I
don’t always support.

Or maybe this generation of kids aren’t starstruck by the pilots simply because the trading cards are no longer made?

And so, I’ve put together a set of “trading cards” above so you and
your kids know who’s flying the planes overhead today, tomorrow and
Sunday. Even if you don’t support the U.S. Military, there’s no
disagreeing that the Blue Angels pilots are impressive. They’ve flown
over war-torn countries, taken off from aircraft carriers dozens of
times, and spent hundreds of hours cooped up in planes. Plus, they’re in
incredible shape as their bodies must withstand g-forces that would
render ordinary humans unconscious. Too bad we couldn’t get the
volleyball photos.