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Tunstall graduate lands jobs as crew chief for elite Blue Angels

LYNCHBURG — When Joshua Wilborne graduated from Tunstall High School in 2008 he went straight into the U.S. Navy.

Six years and three deployments later, he was chosen to join the Blue Angels — the Navy’s elite flight demonstration squadron made up of skilled Navy and Marine Corps airmen — as a crew chief on one of the seven jets that make up the squadron.

This year, Wilborne is the crew chief of the No. 7 F-18 Hornet, with responsibilities that include working with the jet’s pilot to coordinate all of the show sites and prepare “civilians” chosen to take a ride in the jet, as well as maintain the aircraft.

Wilborne’s jet landed at Lynchburg Regional Airport — where the Blue Angels are participating in the Lynchburg Regional Airshow this weekend — on Wednesday to begin preparations for the arrival of the rest of the squadron Thursday.

“I help set the show site up, acquire the equipment we need and act as liaison for the show site staff and the Blue Angels,” Wilborne said.

At the end of this season, Wilborne will transition back to the fleet Navy — most Blue Angels do three-year assignments to the squadron and rotate out to allow others the chance to participate — and be an engineer on Navy hovercraft.

Wilborne’s mother, Donna Wilborne of Danville, said she was at Lynchburg Regional Airport when her son landed Wednesday.

“It was amazing to watch my son come in on an F-18, stepping off a jet looking so handsome,” Donna said. “It was a one-in-a-lifetime deal. He looked so sharp, I cried; it was a proud moment.”

Wilborne said he doesn’t get a lot of time to visit family.

“I see them maybe once a year, usually a Christmas visit,” Wilborne said. “We don’t get a lot of time off.”

But, he said, he is pleased he was chosen to join the squadron.

The Blue Angels arrived in Lynchburg Thursday morning to participate in the Lynchburg Air Show on May 21.
Crew Chief Josh Wilborne is a Danville native and 2008 Tunstall High School graduate that is part of the Blue Angels team. This is his last year with the Blue Angels.
The Blue Angels arrived in Lynchburg Thursday morning to participate in the Lynchburg Air Show on May 21.
Having arrived safely in Lynchburg, the Blue Angels pilots and crew greet one another as they prepare for the air show this weekend at Lynchburg Regional Airport.

The Blue Angels arrived in Lynchburg Thursday morning to participate in the Lynchburg Air Show on May 21.
Lieutenant Ryan Chamberlin, pilot of No. 5 jet for the Blue Angels makes his way down the tarmac after arriving in Lynchburg for the air show this weekend.
Capt. Jeff Kuss, pilot of No. 6 jet is in his second year with the Blue Angels and will move up to No. 5 jet next year.
Captain Jeff Kuss, pilot of No. 6 jet is in his second year with the Blue Angels and will move up to No. 5 jet next year.

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