PENSACOLA, Fla. — Beach-goers and surfers along Pensacola Beach will pause this week as the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels take to the skies over the coral waters to perform before their hometown during the Red, White and Blues Airshow.
Live music, great food, and the sights of a great airshow will highlight this week headlined by the Navy’s elite flight demonstration squadron’s six Blue and Gold F/A-18C Hornets. The Blue’s newly minted C-130 transport aircraft, nicknamed Fat Albert, will also perform over the coastline piloted by an all-Marine crew.
The hulking four-engine plane will make several low passes and high inclination climbs near show center beginning at 2:05 p.m. The jets will then perform a nearly forty minute demonstration fifteen minutes later. Watch for the famous sneak pass by Angels 5 and 6 as they scream low overhead from behind the crowd during their demo.
“There is simply just something extra special about watching your hometown heroes perform over the most beautiful place in the world, Pensacola Beach,” said Robbie Schrock, Director of Administration with Santa Rosa Island Authority, on Monday. “It doesn’t matter how many times I have seen them perform, I literally still get chills watching them. They sure know how to thrill the crowds.”
The Blues front office explains that the aerodynamic box is from the beach line and out over the waters, and that swimmers will need to exit the Gulf waters prior to the start of the performances. A black and white boat anchored nearly one mile off Casino Beach and near the great pier will serve as the air show’s center point for the pilots.
The Blues will practice over the beachline on Wednesday at 8:00 a.m., and on Thursday and Friday, both at 2:00 p.m., prior to Saturday’s official airshow.
Several civilian aerobatic acts from the deep south, including Skip Stewart, Gary Ward and Team Aerodynamix, will kick-off the airshow beginning at 12:00 p.m. followed by the Blue Angels at about 2:05 p.m.
Stewart’s modified Pitts bi-plane named Promytheus will streak black and red across the summer sky as he pushes his aircraft up to 400 horse power performing loops and high speed passes. Ward’s green and purple MX2 monoplane will perform several loops, climbs and dives during the show.
As the crowd glances toward the sky’s horizon, a yellow Extra 300SHP aircraft will fast approach over the Gulf waters as pilot Kevin Coleman performs a fast pass. Cole finished in first place during the 2016 Challenger Cup Red Bull Air Race.
Mrs. Schrock suggests to arrive on the beach early on Friday and Saturday as area officials expect some of the largest crowds ever on Pensacola Beach. Air show organizers stated that if Saturday is rained out, the performers will fly on Sunday weather permitting.
The Pensacola Trolly will increase it’s free service from the mainland over to the beach from 7:00 a.m. to dark on Friday and Saturday.
Standing on the sugar beaches of Pensacola illuminated in the golden light of the setting sun, Schrock smiled and concluded, “If you ever have the opportunity to watch the Blue Angels over Pensacola Beach, I can assure you it will be your new favorite holiday.”
(Charles A Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via Social Media @Military_Flight.)