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Moon: Blues claim Warrington as home

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The children at Blue Angel Early Learning Center always love to watch the Blue Angels fly overhead.
The children at Blue Angel Early Learning Center always love to watch the Blue Angels fly overhead.

The Blue Angels are back for their first practice of the season.

Blue Angels fly down Palafox in downtown Pensacola in route to Pensacola Naval Air Station.
Special to the News Journal

You don’t need a calendar at Mission San Juan Capistrano to know when
spring begins. The swallows returning to the renowned California
mission signal the season.
In Warrington, we look for the Blues
to fly home as they have for the past 70 years. Because come spring,
it’s not the spring birds chirping that makes the joyful noise on the
Westside. It’s the roar of the Blue Angels over Navy Point and across
Navy Boulevard that shatters the peace. But like Public Enemy screamed
“Bring the Noise.” It’s a noise so fierce, so forceful, so majestic.
The
Blue Angels Naval Flight Demonstration team returned home Monday from
their winter slumber in El Centro, Calif. On Wednesday, the daring
aviation aces had their first home practice of their 70th anniversary
season, launching from Pensacola Naval Air Station in Warrington. For
the rest of spring and summer, we westsiders will see them almost daily.
Or even if we don’t see them, we’ll hear them. Because often enough,
they’re gone in a jet flash.
Wednesday in Warrington was true spring — people parking cars on the
side of the highway to watch the Blues. Folks camped out at Navy Point
on the shore of Bayou Grande watching the team scream by. The wee ones
at Blue Angel Early Learning Center on Sorrento Road get to see and hear
the Blues almost daily; their sound so loud and rattling you’re
surprised the kids don’t spill their juice boxes.
The center’s
director, Stephanie Lynch, said the kids love to go outside and watch
the Blue Angels fly over their school — a point of pride for anyone who
attends Blue Angel Early Learning Center or Blue Angel Elementary School
a few miles away.
But it’s not just the kids. The grownups love
them, too. On Wednesday, Doug and Debbie Gleichner of Chicago pulled
their car over on Gulf Beach Highway so they could step out and watch
bits of the practice session.
Doug, who attended the University of
West Florida in the mid-1980s, was in town to do some fishing. He had
no idea the Blues had just returned to town.
“It’s pretty awesome,” he said, his camera-phone pointed to the sky
awaiting another pass. He started to say something else but interrupted
himself — “Here they come through again,” he said, just as the Blues’
famed diamond streaked overhead.
Down at Navy Point, families sat
in the sand and watched the Blues, away from the crowded base traffic
— there was a huge traffic jam at the back gate to get into the practice
session; and remember, all visitors MUST use the back gate when going
to see the Blues or to visit the National Naval Aviation Museum.
Artist
Didier Guedj, who moved to the United States after falling in love with
the country after watching the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles on
television, watched with his family from the Navy Point shoreline.
“I’ve
heard they are one of the best in the world,” he said of the flight
team. “I have seen them before, but it never gets old.”
Blue Angels practices
The
Blue Angels can be seen practicing over the National Naval Aviation
Museum most Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from March to November. The
team visits the museum to answer questions and sign autographs after
most Wednesday practices.
Practices
typically begin at 11:30 a.m. and last about 55 minutes. Admission is
free and open to the public, with 100% ID check. Visitors must enter
through the West Gate of Pensacola Naval Air Station off Blue Angel
Parkway.
Visit www.blueangels.navy.mil/media/ show/2016PracticeSchedule.pdf for a complete practice schedule.