Backyards in the northern Miami Valley were prime vantage points Thursday morning as the Blue Angels roared into town complete with their trademark sound. Practices will continue Friday as the team, officially dubbed the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, prepares to perform in the 2014 Vectren Dayton Air Show on Saturday and Sunday, June 28 and 29.
The Blue Angels are in their 68th season, and their professionalism shows in every pilot, team member, aircraft, and small detail. Lieutenant Commander David Tickle, lead solo flying Blue Angel No. 5, is happy to show off the capabilities of the Navy and Marine Corps.
“Unfortunately, most people don’t get to spend time on an aircraft carrier or ride around with Marines in a tank,” says Lt. Cmdr. Tickle. “So, we’re able to bring our Squadron to the backyards of America here in Dayton and show the folks exactly what the men and women in uniform do. I get to represent over 550,000 active duty sailors and Marines on a daily basis, and it’s such a rewarding, humbling experience. I couldn’t be more thrilled to do it.”
Spectators — whether watching on the grounds of the Dayton Airport or from neighboring Miami County swimming pools — will see a similar show to the one the Blues served up on their last visit in 2012. Similar, in this case, is anything but ordinary.
“We’ll max perform it,” Tickle promises. “We’ll be flying 18 inches from each other. We’ll be all the way from -3 g’s to positive 7.5 g’s. Our slowest is about 120 miles per hour, all the way up to one of the passes that is about 700 miles per hour. The full spectrum.”
This isn’t Tickle’s first trip to the Dayton area.
“I was here in 2012,” he said. “The coolest thing about being back here is it’s not 115 degrees like it was last time! In all seriousness, it’s great to be back. We receive such a warm welcome in Dayton.”
Joining the pilots are a robust team of aviation professionals including mechanics, medics, and public affairs specialists. Among them are two Ohio natives, Petty Officers 1st Class Yvonne Dumas of Columbus and Robert Meagher of Norwood.
Dumas says the pilots trust the team and the team trusts the pilots. Unfortunately, she’s usually busy working in a hangar during the maneuvers. When she does get a chance to catch the action, it remains awe-inspiring.
“These are fighter jets,” she marvels. “They’re pretty cool aircraft with a lot of different capabilities. Every once in awhile, I get to look up. It never fails to impress me every time I see it. It doesn’t get old. It’ll never get old.”
Both Dumas and Meagher are eager for area friends and family to see the Blue Angels and Fat Albert perform this weekend, and Dumas hopes the show will give kids an opportunity to learn more about the Navy.
“Coming from Columbus, there’s not a big Navy presence. I didn’t know much about the Navy prior to joining. I’m excited for my friends and family to come and see what I do. It’s great to be back in the great State of Ohio.”
“It’ll be a lot of fun putting on the Air Show in front of so many people I know” agrees Meagher, who was born at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.
With so many eyes on the F/A-18 Hornets tearing through the sky, it’s easy to elevate fighter pilots beyond rock star status straight to superhero territory. Who do the Blues look up to themselves?
“I look up to people that serve,” Tickle notes. “Anybody that’s putting forth their best effort to make something better, to make people better, to make society better. A group of people who want to help others and do great things? That’s who I look up to.”
How to Go: Learn more about the weekend events via the Vectren Dayton Air Show.
Fly Higher: Experience an online demo via the Blue Angels.
Story and Photos by Andrea Nay for Tipp News Daily