Blues Aim To Fly In November

Blue Angels looking to perform for fans during Veterans Day weekend


The emerging possibility that the Blue Angels might fly at the proposed Wings Over Pensacola Air Show Festival during Veterans Day weekend was welcomed by the event’s manager Tuesday, but he hopes they won’t be doing a cameo appearance.

A spokeswoman for the Blues said they might be allowed limited participation in theair show events planned for Nov. 8-11.

But W.A. “Buck” Lee, chairman of the Santa Rosa Island Authority, which would run the events, said that whether the Blue Angels could help make them successful depends on whether they can fly for “30 seconds or 30 minutes.”

The Navy has restricted the flight demonstration team’s practice time this summer in the wake of federal budget cuts, and it’s uncertain they can regain air show proficiency standards by November.

The Blue Angels have been practicing together more lately than has previously been made public to be ready for a return to air shows if and when the Navy allows.

“They are not doing any aerobatics,” Navy Lt. Katie Kelly, a spokeswoman for the group, said on Tuesday.

But she acknowledged that during past two weeks the six-jet team has flown together briefly for the first time in several months, “maybe once or twice.”

Those flights, she said, are essentially “transiting” from their base at Pensacola Naval Air Station to a practice area over the Gulf of Mexico.

Kelly added the Blues learned late Monday about the proposed three-day Wings Over Pensacola Air Show Festival for Veterans Day weekend in November. Although Kelly told the News Journal on Monday that the Blue Angels aren’t involved with plans for that show, she said in an interview Tuesday, “If we are given permission from the higher command we would like to support the air show in any way we can.”

That participation might be no more than signing autographs, Kelly said, but it could be a “fly over,” and the team might be able to do a “partial demonstration.” Such an appearance would probably be limited to a little more than “straight-level” flight during the Wings Over Pensacola events, tentatively scheduled for Nov. 8 through 11.

As reported, in reaction to federal budget cuts the Navy has limited each of the Blues aviators to 11 hours of practice time a month during the summer, about one-third of their normal schedule.

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