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The Season of Angels

Time for Annapolis to gaze at the heavens again

       It’s almost that time of year in Annapolis. There’s a distant rumble … the skies are clear, so we know it’s not thunder. We turn our eyes to the horizon, scramble to the highest position close by and search the sky for contrails. 
      It’s the season of angels — Blue Angels.
      As a child, I remember my first encounter with those masters of the clouds. I clasped my hands to my ears, eyes widened out of fear. With some coaxing my curiosity got the better of me. 
      I looked up just in time to see the Blue Angels, practicing for the annual air show in honor of Commissioning Week at the U.S. Naval Academy. I was fascinated with the jets, their formation and how very close they seemed. I loved the way the city stood still for those few minutes, all faces turned toward the heavens.
       The sound is deafening. You either love it or loathe it. 
       Every year crowds gather on the banks of the Severn River near the Navel Academy campus to watch the distinctive colors of the Blue Angel blue and Insignia yellow streak through the sky in the astonishing aerial performance of the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squad.
      First formed after the Second World War — making the Blue Angels the second oldest flying aerobatic team in the world — the then-named Flight Exhibition Team aspired to sustain public interest in Naval aviation. Their first flight soared in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1946 led by Lt. Commander Roy ‘Butch’ Voris.
       The famous diamond formation was introduced two months later.
       Now flying the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, the six-person team performs a 45-minute-long, choreographed routine with agile maneuvers from the four-jet diamond-formation squad and fast-paced tricks from two solo pilots. 
         The thrilling stunts include barrel rolls, inverted and backward flying, synchronized dives and full diamond flips. The famous Delta Breakout concludes the show, with all six jets whizzing away in their well-known triangle. 
        Naval Academy graduate Katie Higgins became the first woman to join the famous team. Her ride, Fat Albert, is a Blue Angels support aircraft that opens every show. 
      This year two Navel Academy graduates are on the blue and yellow team. Lt. Andre Webb, class of 2008, narrates the aerial show; Commander Matt Kaslik, a 1995 graduate, is the team’s executive officer.
See the Blue Angels Flyovers
Tuesday, May 22 over the Severn River, 11am-1pm for circle and arrival, and at 1:45-4pm for a flight rehearsal.
Wednesday, May 23 over the Severn River, 2-4pm for a flight demonstration.
Friday, May 25 above Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for the time-honored graduation flyover. Parking is $5 at the blue side of the stadium.