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Navy Week heralds return of the Blue Angels

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Members of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels practice formations at Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield on Thursday, May 1, 2014, as they prepare for this weekend's air show. The air show, featuring aerobatic and vintage aircraft, will be open Saturday and Sunday. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com
Members of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels practice formations at Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield on Thursday, May 1, 2014, as they prepare for this weekend’s air show. The air show, featuring aerobatic and vintage aircraft, will be open Saturday and Sunday. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

A week of traveling demonstrations by Navy personnel will preview the second Spirit of St. Louis Air Show & STEM Expo and a return of the Blue Angels aerobatics team next weekend in Chesterfield.

The Navy Blue Angels, flying St. Louis-made F/A-18 jets, headline two days of air shows that include flyovers and displays of modern and World War II-era military aircraft. The first Spirit of St. Louis show was held in May 2014, reviving the old St. Louis County air show that ended in 2007.

The Spirit of St. Louis show is Saturday and Sunday at Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield. Also on the grounds is the STEM Expo (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) with exhibits designed to interest young people in science careers.

Tickets are $20 in advance on the air show website (www.spirit- airshow.com) and $25 at the gate. The cost includes parking. Children 6 and under, and active-duty service personnel, get in free.

Navy Week makes its fourth stop in St. Louis beginning Monday with band concerts, parachute visits to high schools and other events. The Navy offers the promotion in cities throughout the country to exhibit its defense role and encourage enlistments.

It features the Navy’s Leap Frogs parachute team at Oakville High School at 9 a.m. and Fox High School School in Arnold at 1:45 p.m., and a presentation by crew members of the sailing-frigate Constitution, known as Old Ironsides, at the Cleveland Junior Naval Academy in St. Louis. A participating sailor from the Constitution, still moored in Boston, is Cody Schierding, a 2014 graduate of Timberland High School in the Wentzville School District.

The Navy Band from Great Lakes Training Center near Chicago will hold several concerts beginning at noon Wednesday on the plaza at the Old Post Office downtown. Navy events continue through Sunday. (For a full list, see www.outreach.navy.mil/Navy-Weeks/St-Louis)

The air show and science expo runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and spokesman Mark Sutherland urges visitors to arrive early and plan on an hour getting into and out of the grounds. He said show organizers have improved the traffic plan to try to avoid the snarls of the inaugural show two years ago.

Despite that, it was popular. More than 125,000 people attended, Sutherland said.

The air shows begin at 11:15 a.m. each day. In addition to the Blue Angels, entries include the Canadian Forces Snowbirds aerobatic team, an F-22 Raptor fighter and military helicopters. The World War II entries include a B-17, B-29, a Navy Corsair and a P-51 Mustang. Most of the planes will be on display beginning at 9 a.m. each day on the airport tarmac. The display includes other craft, including a Stearman trainer, a P-38 Lightning and an F-15 Eagle.

Saturday’s show will begin with flyovers by B-1 and B-2 bombers.

Owners of some of the aircraft, including the B-17, offer tours and flights for additional charges.

Boeing sponsors the air show, MasterCard the STEM expo.

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