by Jessica Echerri
Anyone in the vicinity of Naval Air Station Pensacola (NASP) Nov. 8 and 9 was familiar with the sound of F/A-18 Super Hornets breaking the sound barrier as they barrel through the clouds in close formation.
The Blue Angels, a US Navy flight demonstration squadron, performed at the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show along with several headlining performances including the Air National Guard, the Shockwave Jet Truck, and Team Aerodynamics.
“I love going to see the Blue Angels,” said Natasha Dougherty, a student at Pensacola State College (PSC) who attended the air show. “It’s a great activity for our family and we like the chance to support our community.”
The mission of the Blue Angels is to showcase Navy pride and professionalism through community outreach. Numerous pilots, mechanics, technicians, and other Navy aviation professionals make themselves and their aircraft available during air shows to teach the public about what they do.
“It’s a good opportunity to talk to the public,” said US Marine Corps 1st Lt. Matt Wright, a student assigned to VT-86 Sabrehawks, a training squadron at NASP. “They come here and they get to see the plane and how it’s used. They see it, feel it, and they can they say, ‘this is what they use, this is how they train.’”
Wright said he had the opportunity to teach a Boy Scout about his aircraft, the T-45 Goshawk, an aircraft carrier-capable trainer. “I got down on a knee and explained to him that there is a wire going across the flight deck and the hook is used to catch that wire when I land,” he said. “Then he went back to his troop and taught them.”
Another innovative aircraft on display was the MQ-18 Hummingbird, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The drone aircraft, which made its first flight in 2002, is being used in missions overseas to maintain a military presence while keeping American service members as safe as possible.
“I’ve never seen a helicopter with no windows,” said Dougherty. “It was really cool to see these new things that our military is using.”