Low clouds and the threat of storms didn’t stop the U.S. Navy Blue Angels from delighting thousands of fans gathered on Pensacola Beach early Wednesday for Breakfast with the Blues.
The annual event kicks off the Blue Angels Pensacola Beach Air Show. The six F/A-18 Hornets flew over the beach for about two hours as the pilots familiarized themselves with the show area.
“Because of the clouds, we heard a lot more than we saw. But we are never disappointed with the Blue Angels,” said Jennifer Simmons of Pensacola.
The jets streaked in and out of the low cloud cover throughout the morning.
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Simmons and others in crowd said they were keeping close watch on the changing weather forecasts for later in the week.
Organizers of the show are also monitoring developments with the tropical system in the Gulf that could develop into possible Hurricane Barry later this week, said Robbie Schrock of the Santa Rosa Island Authority.
“We are hoping for the best, for a great week,” Schrock said as she watched Wednesday’s show.
Performances for the rest of the week will be “game-day decisions,” she said.
“Safety is the most important aspect for pilots and for spectators,” she said.
Schrock encouraged anyone considering heading out to the beach for the shows to monitor local media as well as the Blue Angels Facebook, Visit Pensacola and the Santa Rosa Island Authority for updates in case of weather-related schedule changes.
Organizers have scheduled Sunday for a make-up day if Saturday is rained out.
The clouds and threat of bad weather didn’t deter the Middleton family of Gulf Breeze from heading to the beach Wednesday morning.
Parents Jonathan and Adelaide, along with 7-year-old Finn and 2-year-old Mary Catherine, showed up with a box of special doughnuts.
Finn picked a doughnut with Fruity Pebbles on top. “My baby sister and I, we love the Blue Angels,” he said.
Also watching was longtime National Naval Aviation Museum volunteer, Debbie Naylor and friend Cathy Lorenzo. Naylor said she has been watching beach air shows for more than 25 years.
Breakfast with the Blues 2018
She recalled watching the shows before 2001 when spectators were allowed in the water.
“You could go out on an air mattress. It was like you could almost touch the tail hooks,” she said.
Beau Simpson, 5, wore his dinosaur swimming trunks to watch the Blue Angels fly. But Beau decided after the show that he might like the Blue Angels better than dinosaurs.
His parents, Brittany and Michael Simpson of Gulf Breeze, laughed as he debated whether Blue Angels or dinosaurs were cooler.
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Michael Simpson said the Wednesday morning show was perfect for families.
“It’s a little cooler out here, the parking was easy and it’s not so crowded,” he said.
The Blue Angels are scheduled to fly over the beach again at 2 p.m.Thursday for a full practice demonstration. The air show dress rehearsal is scheduled for noon Friday with the Blue Angels flying at 2 p.m. The official show is scheduled for noon Saturday with the Blue Angels flying flying at 2 p.m.
The Pensacola Naval Air Station-based Blue Angels have said the team is monitoring the forecast and hopes to fly.
“We will not make a decision to cancel or postpone a practice or performance until the last possible second (more than once this decision has been made after the pilots entered their aircraft and prepared to taxi),” the team said in a Facebook post on Monday.