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Blue Angels visit Jacksonville Tuesday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Blue Angels were in Jacksonville for pre-show preparations Tuesday.

A pair from the famous flying team visited NAS JAX as they get a lay of the land and start organizing for November.

“Going to another show site, going to another site visit and it’s a lot of fun,” Lt. Dave Steppe, Blue Angel number 8 and the team’s event coordinator.

A show that is still months away, Steppe said what they’re looking for at NAS JAX is where they’ll place their equipment and how to go through their routine in the safest way.

“The pilots are going to have all their coordination parts when they hit their lines and do their pulls and loops and barrel rolls,” Steppe said.

Lieutenant Brandon Hempler joined the team last year.

“It’s one of the best jobs a guy could ask for,” Hempler said.

Flying Blue Angel number 7, he helps make sure the air shows around the country take-off. There is one show on the schedule, though, that has is special to the whole team.

“Jacksonville being the birthplace of the Blue Angels back in 1946 is definitely special to the Blue Angels, people of Jacksonville are great, last year we did the show out at the beach and had so much support,” Hempler said.

He added that the pilots are in top shape after spending the winter training in California.

“It’s a very good time for that, fly, fly, fly all the time and just striving for perfection,” Hempler said.

Now fully focused on the spring show season, Steppe said he is up for the challenge.

“It keeps you busy but it’s a lot of fun,” Steppe said.

The NAS JAX Air Show runs November 4-5.