PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — The Blue Angels are set to put on their beach air show on Saturday.
Members of the media were invited to NAS Pensacola on Thursday ahead of the show to discuss it with members of the flight crew.
WKRG News 5 spoke to the Cmdr. Ben Walborn, the Blues’ No. 5 and lead solo pilot.
Walborn says the air show will feel a bit different as the Blue Angels now fly Boeing Super Hornets.
“This will be our 19th flight demonstration of the year and what we’ve seen is people feel like they’re that much closer to them. The aircraft itself is about 25% bigger. The engines that (mechanics) work on and fix for us put out about 6,000 more pounds of thrust than the other engines. So they’re going to get a little more in your face with the airplane,” Walborn said. “It’s going to feel like it’s closer, feel like it’s bigger. Rocking your chest a little bit.”
However, Walborn said the Blue Angels will keep the same amount of distance and emphasized safety is a top priority.
Mechanical checks were underway on Thursday to ensure the show goes on as planned.
“All of us work together. That’s the fighting force behind the Blue Angels is the teamwork. Everyone comes together and we do everything we can to make this whole entire airshow possible,” said jet engine mechanic KeCharie Cross. “So all of us work together to set up the jets, get them prepared, get them launched out and recover them safely. So it’s a big deal to be here and be a part of this. It’s a great opportunity.”
The Blue Angels practiced Thursday and will do another practice flight Friday. Saturday’s air show will be the Blues’ first full flight demonstration at Pensacola Beach in about two years.
In 2019, the show was cut short due to weather and 2020’s show was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
The Blue Angels say after a tough year in 2020, they’re happy to provide some excitement for the community.
“Seeing the beaches start to fill up and people start to go out and hang out with each other and for us to culminate with a pretty awesome show coming this weekend and hopefully put on for everybody — it’s going to be fantastic,” Walborn said.
WKRG News 5 will cover the Blue Angels’ practice tomorrow. You can watch it on WKRG.com starting at 1:30 p.m.