RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
The Blue Angels will captivate the sky with their riveting aerial acrobatics this weekend during the air show at Randolph Air Force Base.
The Blue Angels mission is to enhance Navy and Marine Corps recruiting, and credibly represent Navy and Marine Corps aviation to the United States and its Armed Forces to America and other countries as international ambassadors of good will.
One of the Blue Angels, Lt. C.J. Simonsen #6, opposing solo, said the best part about being a Blue Angel is furthering the military mission and being a role model for children.
"The kids in the next generation need to be excited about what we do so that the future of our country is secure for the next 10 to 20 years."
During the aerobatic demonstration, the Blue Angels operate six F/A-18 Hornet aircraft, flying in a Diamond formation (Blue Angels 1 through 4) with the Lead and Opposing Solos (Blue Angels 5 and 6). The Diamond, in tight formation and usually at lower speeds, performs maneuvers such as formation loops, barrel rolls, and transitions from one formation to another. The Solos fly many of their maneuvers just under the speed of sound, showcasing the high performance capabilities of their individual Hornets through the execution of high-speed passes, slow passes, fast rolls, slow rolls and very tight turns.
"The flying is hard work," Simonsen said. "Any Navy F-15 pilot can do what we do, but what you don't realize is the flying is really difficult. We're flying low, fast, so the margin of error is very small and unforgiving. Day in and day out, we fly two to three times a day, 15 times a week, Monday through Saturday, for two and a half months. The training is very good, but difficult."
The Blue Angels represent approximately 540,000 Sailors and Marines.
"The average taxpayer doesn't get a chance to see what their men and women in uniform do," Simonsen said. "We go to middle America and we wear the uniform so the public can come out and see what their tax money is going to. I'm very honored to be a part of that and it's a humbling experience to be a part of it."
The Blue Angels don't just perform at air shows. Every Friday, they speak with children at high schools about their military service and encourage students to work hard in school, stay physically active, serve in leadership roles and participate in extracurricular activities.
"The kids look up to us like we're superheroes, but we're really just normal guys who get to fly," Simonsen said.