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First Blue Angels plane on ground, squadron arrives Thursday

U.S. Navy Petty Officer Arthur Stockpole, Seven crew chief, and Lt. Brandon Hempler exit the Blue Angels McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet No. 2 jet for a short meet and greet at the Millville Airport on Wednesday, May 24.(Photo: Justin Odendhal/Staff Photo)

MILLVILLE – The final countdown on the 2017 Millville Wheels & Wings Airshow officially started with the ear-splitting arrival of the first U.S. Navy Blue Angels F-18 Hornet here a little before 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The Blue Angels No. 2 plane was flown by Lt. Brandon Hempler with a crew chief, Petty Officer Arthur Stockpole, flying passenger.

Hempler is the narrator for the Blues Angels shows and also was here for a quick recon in December.

“We’ve got a great show planned,” Hempler said before heading into a private meeting. “Looks like the weather’s going to be pretty good. “So we’ve got six jets that are coming in. We’ve got one here now. Five more will be coming tomorrow. And everybody should be excited about the Millville air show. It’s going to be good.”

Blue Angel No. 7 U.S. Navy Lieutenant Brandon Hempler taxis Flying Blue Angels McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet No. 2 at the Millville Airport on Wednesday, May 24. (Photo: Justin Odendhal/Staff Photo)
Blue Angel No. 7 U.S. Navy Lieutenant Brandon Hempler shakes hands with Freeholder Director, Joseph Derella while posing for a picture with Millville Mayor Michael Santiago and Millville Airshow Director Linda Jester at the Millville Airport on Wednesday, May 24. (Photo: Justin Odendhal/Staff Photo)

This Memorial Day Weekend air show would be the third Blue Angels appearance in Millville since 2003 and the first since 2007. This air show also is the unit’s only performance in New Jersey in 2017, which is anticipated to boost interest among the region’s aviation fans.

The Navy and museum are keeping an eye on the weather, but the outlook is good for the show’s kickoff. Blue Angel performances usually go for 40 minutes.

“We always hope for the best weather possible so we can go full high show,’” Hempler said. “However, we have multiple shows that we can do. All the way down to a 1,000-foot ceiling, we can do a show. May not be the high, quick climbs and stuff, but it’ll be definitely some close formation flying still even though we’ll stay lower.”

The annual show is the key fundraiser for its sponsor, the Millville Army Air Field Museum. David Schultz Airshows LLC is coordinating the event for the museum.

The museum also is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the opening of the airport as a defense base.

Blue Angel No. 7 U.S. Navy Lieutenant Brandon Hempler flies the Flying Blue Angels McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet No. 2 over the Millville Airport on Wednesday, May 24. (Photo: Justin Odendhal/Staff Photo)
Blue Angel No. 7 U.S. Navy Lieutenant Brandon Hempler taxis Flying Blue Angels McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet No. 2 at the Millville Airport on Wednesday, May 24. (Photo: Justin Odendhal/Staff Photo)

Greeting the plane on the taxiway behind Big Sky Aviation were museum representatives, including President Chuck Wyble and air show director Lisa Jester; Mayor Michael Santiago, police Chief Jody Farabella and fire Chief Michael Lippincott; and Cumberland County Freeholder Director Joseph Derella, a Millville resident.

The remainder of the Blue Angels squadron is expected in two stages on Thursday.

A C-130 transport, a replacement aircraft rather than the unit’s own “Fat Albert,” will arrive with about 60 support staff and officers around 10:30 a.m. Five Blue Angels jets will follow around noon.

The Blue Angels are scheduled for a full rehearsal show at 2 p.m. Friday.

The Blue Angels are the definite headliners for the 2017 air show, but the ground components to the event are strong.

Blue Angel No. 7 U.S. Navy Lieutenant Brandon Hempler exits the Flying Blue Angel’s McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet No. 2 for a short meet and greet at the Millville Airport on Wednesday, May 24. (Photo: Justin Odendhal/Staff Photo)
U.S. Navy Petty Officer Arthur Stockpole, Seven Crew Chief exits the Flying Blue Angel’s McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet No. 2 for a short meet and greet at the Millville Airport on Wednesday, May 24. (Photo: Justin Odendhal/Staff Photo)

The South Jersey Cruisers Association is expecting as many as 300 classic antique cars and trucks as well as modern muscle cars, according to association director Ben Notaro.

The classic car show is open to all classic car clubs and individuals with show car or trucks. Registration is from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. There will be trophies for the top 20 cars and a best-of-show car presented at 3 p.m. on both days.

For more information about the air show, visit MillvilleAirshow.com or call the museum at (856) 327-2347. Emails can also be sent to airshow Director Lisa Jester at ljester@p47millville.org.

For more information about the car show, contact John Wolfe at (856) 825-3047.

The program for Saturday and Sunday is as follows.

9 a.m. – Gates open

11:30 a.m.- Temporary Flight Restrictions in effect for airshow

11:45 a.m.- Opening ceremony

Noon – National anthem with Skydive Cross Keys Flag jump

12:06 p.m. – Skydive Cross Keys Mass Exit Parachute Demonstration

12:16 p.m. – L Bird and PT Flight

12:31 p.m. – Greg Shelton PT-17 Stearman Solo

12:46 p.m. – SNJ Flight

12:56 p.m. – Kevin Russo SNJ-6 Demonstration

1:11 p.m. – USCG MH-65D Dauphin Search and Rescue Demonstration

1:21 p.m. – Greg Shelton FM2 Wildcat Demonstration

1:36 p.m. – Paul Dougherty Christian Eagle Aerobatics

1:46 p.m. – N.J. ArNG/ANG UH-60 SPIES Demonstration

1:56 p.m. – B-25 Panchito demonstration (non-aerobatic)

2:11 p.m. – Jacquie B Airshow Extra 300

2:26 p.m. – Greg Shelton with Ashley Shelton Wingwalking

2:39 p.m. – Scott Francis MX2 Aerobatics

2:54 p.m. – USMC Blue Angels C-130T Hercules Demonstration

3:04 p.m. – USN Blue Angels Demonstration

5 p.m. – Gates Close. Airshow Ends. Temporary Flight Restrictions End.