Blue Angels to fly over Key West
U.S. Navy Capt. Eric Doyle won’t use the word dangerous when describing the astonishing moves made by the Blue Angels aerobatic jet team.
Each maneuver has earned its place as a challenge for the jet pilots — both mentally and physically.
“They all are challenging in their own right,” said Doyle, the commanding officer and flight leader of the Blue Angels, which he joined in 2017. “There’s some really tight stuff.”
How about the “Diamond 360,” during which the six famous blue-and-gold Boeing F/A-18 Hornets grace the sky just 18 inches away from one another?
“Eighteen inches,” Doyle repeated with a smile Thursday as the Angels arrived at the Navy base outside of Key West.
The Blue Angels, one of the Navy’s most popular promotional tools, have been flying since 1946. They were named after a famous New York nightclub that one of the original members came across in a magazine, according to the Navy.
The nation spends plenty on the jet team. The basic cost of a single Boeing F/A-18 Hornet is $21 million.
But millions adore the Angels. Key West locals gathered outside to catch a glimpse of the jets’ formation that soared over Duval Street Thursday morning as the team headed to Boca Chica Key, posting photos and videos on Facebook photos.
About 11 million people view the Angels at air shows each year, the Navy says.
What it’s like in the air is hard to express, Doyle said of the shows where the Hornets will get up to 700 mph.
“It’s hard to find the words to describe it,” Doyle said. “I’m just really focused.”
Trust is another word the commanding officer uses in describing how the jet pilots work together.
“It takes lots of practice to get these maneuvers down,” said Doyle, a 23-year Navy veteran who hails from Texas. “The trust comes. As we build that, we get tighter and tighter and tighter.”
Navy officials expect about 36,000 people to attend over the weekend. Gates open at 9 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday with the air show starting at 10:30 a.m. The Blue Angels fly at 2:30 p.m. Admission and parking are free. The last air show was in 2016; the one before that, in 2013.