I got introduced to air shows at a very early age. Perhaps that was foreshadowing that, one day, I would be in aviation. Daddy always loved airplanes. My brother was in Army aviation until he retired, and is now a civilian contractor with the Army. Jim has been in aviation his entire working career. I guess it was destined.
One of the great things about working for Kalitta Air (and there are many) is that every year, around the middle of July, there is a big air show at Willow Run Airport (Thunder Over Michigan). Check it out on the web, if you like.
Our headquarters (where I work) is also at Willow Run. For several days prior to the show (held Saturday and Sunday), the exhibitors fly in. It’s not at all unusual to see World War II-vintage aircraft (P-51 Mustangs, F-4U Corsairs, B-17 Flying Fortresses, B-24 Liberators, and B-25 Mitchells, and others). Every “odd” year, there is an extra, added attraction…the Blue Angels (the Navy’s flight demonstration team)!
The “Boss,” the Blue Angels’ Commanding Officer must have at least 3,000 tactical jet flight-hours and have commanded a tactical jet squadron. “Boss” flies the Number 1 jet. Navy and Marine Corps jet pilots with strict qualifications are eligible to fly the other jets. Generally, Numbers 1 through 4 are the core team and Numbers 5 and 6 are the soloists. Marine Corps pilots fly “Fat Albert” the C-130T Hercules. If you’ve never seen Fat Albert do a JATO (Jet-Assisted Take Off), you would never believe that a big aircraft like that can take off so fast and with such a steep ascent! It’s so cool!
You can’t imagine how hard it can be to try to work with the sound of the Blue Angels overhead. Our view (since we’re on the airport) is terrific! We are right inside the “Flight Box.” This is the area of flight which is just away from the official spectator area (for safety-sake) in which all the stunts are done. Those guys just scream overhead.
Last Thursday and Friday, were their practice days. Most of the photos I’ve attached to this post were taken by one of our employees (and a friend of mine), Bernadette Kearns. As you can see by one of the photos, people have their families come watch the practices. The photos were taken right from outside our hanger. What fun for everyone!
If there’s ever an air show near you in which the Blue Angels will be taking part, GO! They really put on a terrific performance. It will take your breath away…I promise!
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