Eastern North Carolina welcomes Blue Angels

By Emily Sides

A Fourth Fighter Wing F-15 Strike Eagle takes off from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base shortly after the arrival of the Navy’s Blue Angels on May 17, 2017. The Angels are in Eastern North Carolina for the Wings Over Wayne Air Show Saturday and Sunday. Photo by Ty Johnson

SmART Kinston Writer-in-residence

Five Blue Angel pilots from the U.S Navy arrived in a tightly choreographed formation at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, joining the sixth Blue Angel pilot and aircraft, shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday.

From the runway, I saw trees lined the horizon. Other planes take off and land periodically before the Blue Angels arrive.

The Blue Angels are scheduled to perform Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21 as part of the 2017 Wings over Wayne Air Show at the Seymour Johnson Air Force base. The Blue Angels were last at the base in Goldsboro in 2009.

The 2017 Wings over Wayne Air Show starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 20. The Blue Angels are set to perform after 3 p.m. See the website for a full schedule: www.wingsoverwayneairshow.com

Damon Kroes, who introduced himself as Blue Angel No. 2, said they arrived in Goldsboro from Pensacola, Florida. The Blue Angels traveled the roughly 750-mile trip in an hour and 20 minutes.

The Navy’s Blue Angels pass over the flight line at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base on May 17, 2017. Photo by Ty Johnson

Kroes and the other Blue Angel pilots wore blue and yellow uniforms with a tan hat. The F/A-18 Hornet aircraft that they fly is also mostly blue with yellow details. The Blue Angels perform 30 times or more a year.  Kroes said their performance is about showing the Navy’s pride and professionalism.

The F/A-18 Hornet aircraft has been around since 1986, Kroes said, adding that it’s still active in the fleet. The Blue Angel pilots are required to complete 1,250 hours of flying before they can fly, Kroes said.

Andy Teague, who works on maintenance for the Blue Angels aircraft, said he specializes in emergency situations for the pilot, including working on the ejection seat. He said about 40 to 45 people travel for the Blue Angels performances.


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