Onlookers peered out of Aero Mark Inc.’s windows Friday afternoon as two Blue Angel pilots streaked across the sky in a Boeing F/A-18 Hornet.
A contrail lingered in the air after the blue and gold plane landed.
It taxied into a nearby hanger, and Lt. Brandon Hempler and Lt. Dave Steppe emerged from the cockpit clad in crisp blue uniforms and tan hats.
The Blue Angels visited Idaho Falls to talk about the 2017 Extreme Blue Thunder Air Show, which will take place July 22-23 at Aero Mark.
“When we flew in here it was beautiful outside. A little bit of snow, a little chilly, but I can tell in the summertime with that Snake River running down there it’ll be a great time,” Hempler said. “The weather looks like it’ll be great that time of year, so we’ll get a good show going.”
July’s show will feature the U.S. Navy demonstration squadron’s first performance in Idaho Falls since 2010.
Pilots fly as close as 18 inches from each other during demonstration maneuvers, soaring as high as 15,000 feet and as low as 50 feet, according to the Blue Angels’ website.
Spectators parked their cars near the Idaho Falls Regional Airport on Friday to view the flyby. Anticipation for the upcoming show is high, Mayor Rebecca Casper said Friday.
“If you can imagine what a puppy feels like when it’s ready to be taken for a walk and it starts wiggling all over, I think that kind of captures the imagery of the excitement this community is feeling for this event,” she said before recalling 2010’s performance. “They set the bar so high for entertainment and thrills.”
The 2010 air show drew about 46,500 spectators inside the gates and another 100,000 outside them, according to prior Post Register reporting. It also cost the city roughly $40,000 in unbudgeted police and fire overtime pay.
The Idaho Falls City Council was in disagreement last year over funding for the upcoming air show.
The city budgeted $102,000 to cover ancillary services. An agreement drafted in August to provide additional fire, police and other serviceshas yet to be revisited, city spokeswoman Kerry Hammon said.