UPDATE (3:00 p.m.): Red, White and Blues week has officially come to a close with the conclusion of the Blue Angels Air Show Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Angels, whose home base is the Naval Air Station Pensacola, soared through the sky and dazzled spectators up and down the Pensacola Beach line during Friday’s dress rehearsal and Saturday’s official air show. The two days were exactly the same in terms of maneuvers and tricks on display.
The Blue Angels will fly to Ypsilanti, Mi. next for the ‘Thunder over Michigan’ Air Show Saturday, July 16. The ‘hometown’ flyers return back to Pensacola Saturday, July 8, 2023 for their annual air show. The 2023 air show will mark the 77th year of soaring the skies.
Friday’s dress rehearsal saw thousands of spectators cover the Pensacola beaches and Saturday was no different. According to an Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Facebook post, both main parking lots were completely full before 6 a.m. while the air show did not start until 11 a.m.. The rain held off for both days of the air show, while the sun beat down hard on the spectators.
PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — The United States Navy Blue Angels return to Pensacola Beach for the Red, White & Blues Pensacola Beach Air Show on July 9. The summer-highlight air show is also a homecoming for the Blue Angels, whose home base is Naval Air Station Pensacola.
WKRG News 5 will be there for the Air Show on Saturday. We’re streaming the show live here and on the WKRG News 5 Facebook page. Download the WKRG News 5 News app to get push alerts so you don’t miss any of the exciting action.
Blue Angels air show calendar:
- July 6: Circle and Arrivals, 8 a.m.
- July 7: Dress rehearsals, 2 p.m.
- July 8: Full dress rehearsal with civilian acts, 11 a.m.
- July 9: Air Show
Founded in 1946, the Blue Angels is a U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron. They travel the country showing off the remarkable skill and teamwork of Navy and Marine pilots in dozens of air shows and demonstrations, reaching an estimated 11 million spectators each year, according to the Blue Angels website.
What to know about the Blue Angels Pensacola Beach Air Show
Red, White and Blues week continues as the Blue Angels begin their four-day preparation for the Pensacola Air Show beginning with “Breakfast with the Blues” Wednesday morning and ending with their 45-minute airshow Saturday, July 9 at around 2 p.m..
The four-day event includes a Wednesday morning “arrival,” a Thursday practice show and a Saturday air show that the Blue Angels will practice at Friday’s dress rehearsal.
WKRG News 5 took a more detailed look into what exactly you will see on each of these days along with some recommendations for the best views of the Blue Angels. We also give spectators an all-access guide on the best way to get to the beach fronts, including transportation methods and how to ensure your safety throughout the week.
Wednesday – ‘Breakfast with the Blues’
At about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 6, the Blue Angels will carry out their typical “Circle and Arrival” which is when the pilots get familiar with their airspace and “land references.”
Where is the best way to view the arrival of the Blue Angels? According to Visit Pensacola, spectators can get a great look from anywhere along the Pensacola beaches as well as an even more optimal view from the Casino Beach Bar & Grill, Crabs We Got ‘Em or any beachside condominium.
Thursday – ‘Sneak Peak Thursday’
The Blue Angels will hold a practice show Thursday, July 7 beginning at 2 p.m., which is their normal start time. People will have an opportunity to view the show in its entirety with the exception of no “civilian flight demonstrations” or “stunt planes.”
According to the website, optimal views are the same as Wednesday’s while they encouraged people wishing to see just the Blue Angels to go Thursday. “So if you are itching to see the Blues and don’t want to battle the massive crowds, go Thursday,” the website states.
Friday – ‘The Secret is out Friday’
The Blue Angels are set for a dress rehearsal beginning at around 11 a.m. Friday, July 8, which is an “exact replica” of Saturday’s air show. The full dress rehearsal begins with civilian flight demonstration acts, which is a “a full-fledged air show that will include the guest flying stars to prelude the Blue Angels.”
The Blue Angels will arrive at around 2 p.m., at the same time they will take to the sky on Saturday.
Saturday – ‘Strike Early, Stay for Dinner Saturday’
Saturday, July 9 is the official air show day, which begins at around 11 a.m. The Blue Angels will be heard and seen at 2 p.m..
Saturday’s show begins with Julian MacQueen leading off the civilian acts portion of the air show. MacQueen will be flying in his “big, flying seaplane, a vintage 1943 Grumman Widgeon,” at 11 a.m. marking the official start of the show.
Veteran’s Flight team, organized by Pensacola attorney and pilot Roy Kinsey, will follow MacQueen. The flight team consists of about “a dozen vintage Stearman bi-planes pilots” from all over the Southeast. They will fly World War II and Korean War veterans over the Pensacola Beach. According to a release, this is to pay tribute to the veterans while also giving spectators “a glimpse at aviation history.”
Next will be a U.S. Coast Guard Air Sea Rescue demonstration that will take place near the Pensacola Beach pier. The aircrew, which consists of two pilots, one flight mechanic and a rescue swimmer, will be flying in a MH-65D Dolphin medevac helicopter.
Solo pilot Kevin Coleman will take over the sky next in his bright yellow Extra 300 SHP stunt plane to “create a spectacle like no other over Pensacola Beach.”
The Redline Aerobatic Team, made up of pilots Ken Reider and Adam Baker, will follow Coleman in their red and black stunt planes. The two will perform stunts, maneuvers and formations.
The famous red, white and black-checkered bi-plane, known as Prometheus, will take over the sky next piloted by Skip Stewart who will “wow the crowds with high-skill passes and jaw-dropping maneuvers.”
First-year participant, Patty Wagstaff, will follow Stewart with her “breathtaking performances,” giving spectators a great view of “the precision and complexity of hard-core aerobatics.” Wagstaff is the first woman to win the title of U.S. National Aerobatic champion and six-time member of the U.S. Aerobatic Team.
Solo pilot Gary Ward will “zip overhead” in a green and purple MX2 aircraft, “showcasing an aerobatic act packed with breathtaking maneuvers that range from zero-speed hovers to dives in excess of 250 mph.”
Break in the action
A roughly 35 minute window in the action will occur following Ward’s performance marking the end of the civilian stunt pilot performances. Spectators are encouraged to hop in the Pensacola Beach water before the Blue Angels make their way over. You will not be permitted to be in the water during the show.
Blue Angels Arrive
At around 2 p.m. for the next 50 minutes, spectators will get a front-row view to the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. Fat Albert, the famous C-130J aircraft, will lead six “signature blue and gold F-18 Super Hornets,” into Pensacola Beach. In-air maneuvers include Diamond Dirty Loop, the Double Farvel, the Vertical Pitch, the Fleur-de-Lis, the Opposing Knife-Edge pass, and the crowd-favorite Sneak Pass. According to the release, these are just a few of the displays during the show.
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