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‘The Navy’s top act’: Blue Angel jet lands in Lincoln to promote upcoming air show

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Members from the U.S. Navy Blue Angels demonstration team fly their F/A-18 Hornet aircrafts during the first day of 2014’s Defenders of Freedom Open House and Air Show at the Offutt Air Force Base.

LINCOLN — The Navy’s Blue Angels flight team is coming to Lincoln in May, and on Wednesday the city got a sneak peek at one of the sleek blue jets.

A pilot and an event coordinator from the team flew into the Lincoln Airport aboard the team’s No. 7 jet to promote the Guardians of Freedom Air Show on May 7 and 8.

They were welcomed at a press conference in one of the Nebraska National Guard’s cavernous jet hangars by Gov. Pete Ricketts, Lincoln Chamber of Commerce President Wendy Birdsall and Brig. Gen. Richard Dahlman, deputy adjutant general of the Nebraska National Guard.

The air show in Lincoln is held once every five years. The Blue Angels also flew at the last one, in 2011, helping to draw a crowd of 250,000.

“We are so excited to have the Navy’s top act,” Birdsall said.

Capt. Corrie Mays, the team’s event coordinator, said Wednesday’s visit is the beginning of a five-month planning process for the show.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” she said. “We’re fortunate enough to be working with many of the same people again.”

Ricketts described himself as an “aviation buff” and said he developed an awe for the skills of naval aviators about 10 years ago when he was invited to observe night carrier landings aboard the USS John C. Stennis near San Diego.

“It was incredibly impressive,” Ricketts said. “These naval aviators are the best of the best.”

The Lincoln event will be one of two visits this year to Nebraska by high-speed military aerobatics teams. The Air Force Thunderbirds are scheduled to perform at the Defenders of Freedom Open House and Air Show at Offutt on July 30-31. Both events are free.

“It’s a great opportunity for Nebraskans, and people from surrounding states, to see what their men and women in uniform can do,” Ricketts said.

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