I spent Tuesday morning with seven men. It was very hard to get out of bed at 5:00 a.m. but I had places to go. Okay, so I wasn’t in bed with all of them – only one, my hubby. The other six men I spent the morning with were the Blue Angels. We went over to the Pensacola Naval Air Station to watch them practice at 8:30 a.m. And, let me tell you, it was marvelous!!!
The Blue Angels, formed in 1946, are the second oldest flight expedition team in the world, after the French Patrouille de France. Made up of volunteers from the Navy and the Marines, these guys spend three months in the winter practicing twice a day, six days a week to learn the maneuvers. They start by learning them at a distance and then gradually moving in closer until, gasp, they are within eighteen inches of each other in some of these stunts. They are based out of Pensacola and usually practice on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The Naval Museum sets up bleachers for the crowd of over a thousand who come to watch.
I was amazed and awed by these guys. They travel at speeds of up to 700 mph. The one stunt that had my mouth gaping was when the two soloists slowed their jets to 120 mph, noses up, and floated across the air right in front of us. I could not believe they didn’t stall out. The maneuvers and the speed with which these guys have to think just boggles my mind. They do not wear flight suits because their control is between their legs (okay, no jokes here) and if the suits inflated to stabilize the pilot”s blood pressure it would interfere with their control. So these guys wear no anti- G-force suits and must learn to tighten their stomach muscles to force the blood supply to remain in their brains so they don’t pass out. One of their maneuvers subjects them to 7-Gs. Amazing!
If you’re ever down at Gulf Shores or Pensacola, check the Blue Angels website to see if they are in town and are going to hold a practice session. It’s well worth falling out of bed that early while on vacation!
And a nod to Precious Angel. Alas, you can’t be a Blue Precious Angel but we all expect to be seeing you in the Thunderbirds one day!
Have you ever seen the Blue Angels in flight? Or the Air Force Thunderbirds? Have you ever attended an air show? Share your “Top Gun” stories with us.