Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blue Angels

On our last day in Florida, we woke up early and went to watch the Blue Angels practice.  Since it was our last day, I felt a little torn about wanting to spend more time on our deserted beach, and wanting to go see this local attraction.  

When we got to the airfield in Pensacola, there were lots of planes everywhere.  It is also the location of the National Naval Aviation Museum.  

We settled into a small set of metal bleachers and I thought, oh boy, hope this was worth the drive, and the waking up early, and the missing out on our last morning on the beach... I wonder how many shells I am missing out on...

A volunteer who appeared to be a retired Naval pilot began talking to the crowd about the planes, answering questions and giving general information, and then he said, ok, they are about to take off.  We looked down the runway and sure enough two bright blue planes were slowly taxiing along.  Without warning they lifted off and swooped past us.  I couldn't believe how little space they needed to get up to flight speed.  The other 4 planes quickly took off as well, and they immediately began flying in tandem and doing daring stunts. (The military refers to them as maneuvers.  In fact, our announcer probably wouldn't like it if he knew I called them stunts!)
I was shocked at how close together they flew (18" from wing tip to cockpit at one point) but also at how close they were to us!  I guess I was expecting a farther away more visual experience, but this show vibrated my entire being!  When the planes flew by in one of their first formations, it took my breath away!  This sounds silly, but I thought I was going to cry!  My eyes welled up and it was just an overwhelming experience.  I felt brimming with pride, pride for our country, and the great men and women we have in our military.  Pride in the human race for being able to develop such incredible technology.

Blue Angels Info
During the show, the fastest speed is about 700 mph (just under Mach 1; Sneak Pass) and the slowest speed is about 120 mph (indicated speed; Section High Alpha), both flown by the solo pilots during the show. However, the plane can reach speeds just under Mach 2, almost twice the speed of sound or about 1,400 mph. 
The highest maneuver is the vertical rolls performed by the Opposing Solo (up to 15,000 feet) and the lowest is the Sneak Pass (50 feet) performed by the Lead Solo.

Here are some of the "maneuvers" we saw that day.
This is two planes flying side by side.  One is right side up, the other upside down.  (Isn't Neil an awesome photographer?)
After the show was over, they had a jet open for people to take pictures in!  I thought it was the coolest thing ever!  Neil was not as enthused, but he agreed to take my picture!  

Needless to say, it was well worth the drive, and the waking up early, and I don't think that I even missed out on any good shells ;)


Kenny and Karen said...

Wow!! Those ARE some great photos! :)

I get choked up with pride at "military" or "patriotic" things too. But I love that feeling and knowing that we live in such a great country!

I'm glad you got to go experience all the maneuvers (stunts) ;)

Matt and Lori said...

Looks worth it to me! I like the picture of you in the plane :) I would have been right there with ya!

Anonymous said...

I want to fly with you. It would be soooo much fun. I love the picture.