MELBOURNE, Fla. — The Super Hornets of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels arrived on Florida’s Space Coast on Thursday ready to perform this weekend during The Great Florida Airshow.
The Blue Angels will headline a very busy air show which will include an Air Force F-16C Viper and a Navy EA-18G Growler. Several of America’s top aerobatic pilots are also scheduled to perform over Orlando-Melbourne International Airport on May 15 and 16.
Six blue and gold F/A-18E Super Hornets touched down at Orlando-Melbourne at 10 a.m. EDT. Prior to landing, the jets performed a smoke-on flyover aligned in their popular delta formation.
There to greet the jets was the Blue Angels equipment and personnel transport known as Fat Albert. The four-prop hulking aircraft is a C-130J Super Hercules piloted and maintained by an all-Marine crew.
“We are looking forward to celebrating with the city of Melbourne an air show over an awesome city,” Blue Angels left wing pilot Maj. Frank Zastoupil told AvGeekery.com on Thursday. “We are excited to have the chance to be back to support the community.”
The Blue Angels jets returned to the air at noon to perform a few practice flights and familiarize themselves with the area. This is the squadron’s first visit to Melbourne in six years.
Each pilot typically appreciates a certain flight maneuver during their show. Their 45-minute flight demonstration provides thrilling low passes and high speed turns.
“I really like the low-break cross,” Maj. Zastoupil explained. “That is a maneuver when the diamond comes from behind the crowd. We then break out in four separate directions, cross in front of the crowd and then comeback and meet at center point, and then do two max afterburner turns right in front.”
AO1 Joseph Noffsinger serves as the crew chief of Maj. Zastoupil’s number 3 jet. He is responsible for the preflight care and final checks of the aircraft prior to its flight.
“It’s a big responsibility. I’m responsible for Maj. Zastoupil’s well being in the seat and the overall integrity of the aircraft,” Noffsinger said. “Almost everyday is a fun time as I enjoy working on the aircraft.”
Individual tickets and ticket packages are available online only and are not sold at the gate. Gates open at 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and air show officials asks the public to arrive early as general parking near the airport for free and limited.
(Charles A Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)