Florida Keys News
Friday, November 23, 2012
Up, up and away
Blue Angels scope out area for show

A Navy Blue Angel pilot was in Key West Tuesday to scope out Naval Air Station Key West and meet with air show organizers to firm up plans for the Southernmost Air Spectaculars in March.

"I am meeting with the whole air show committee to review blueprints and plans about how the show will run," said Blue Angel pilot Lt. Ryan Chamberlain. "We'll be hashing out all the major details and how they want to run the show, but I suspect it will be similar to the last one."

As with the Southernmost Air Spectaculars in 2010 and 2004, the March 23-24 event will be free and open to all. The 2010 show drew an estimated 25,000 people to Boca Chica Field over three days, which included practice flights on the Friday before the weekend shows.

"Most of the guys on the team have been to (NAS) Key West in one way or another back when we were with fleet, so it's great for us to come back and represent the Navy and Marine Corps.," Chamberlain said. "We all love the weather and everything about Key West. The team is really looking forward to March."

The Blue Angels will begin practicing specific routines for their 2013 show that will culminate with 120 flights in January alone, Chamberlain said.

The acrobatic squadron will headline the show, for which NAS Key West commander Capt. Pat Lefere lobbied. There will also be other demonstration and stunt squadrons as well as static military and civilian vintage aircraft the public will be able to view up close.

Blue Angels pilots rely solely on sight -- no GPS, heads-up electronic displays or other high-tech gadgetry -- when flying the iconic blue and gold F-18 Hornets.

The Blue Angels have a history with the city of Key West and the Naval Air Station going back to the 1950s, when the squadron was based here during the winter months.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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