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Blue Angels, top aerobatic pilots to highlight Pensacola Beach Airshow

The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels will take to the skies above Pensacola's Casino Beach to perform during the Red, White, and Blues week. (US Navy)

PENSACOLA, Fla. — The tranquility of Florida’s Emerald Coast will awaken this week as the Blue Angels take to the skies above the warm Gulf waters to perform a specialized air show for beach goers during the Red, White, and Blues week.

Top civilian aerobatics will join with the Navy’s elite flight demonstration squadron’s six Blue and Gold F/A-18C Hornets for a first class air show on Saturday. The Blue’s newly minted C-130 transport aircraft, nicknamed Fat Albert, is expected to return to flight duty following a year long absence to perform over the coast piloted by an all-Marine crew.

The Blue Angels popular C-130 aircraft, Fat Albert, is expected to perform at Pensacola Beach Week. (US Navy)

Supporting newly added propellers and an upgraded avionics system, the hulking four-engine aircraft will make several low passes and high inclination climbs near show center at Pensacola’s Casino Beach. 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 one-half mile off the coast, and near the great pier. will serve as the air show’s center point for the pilots.

Pensacola officials ask visitors to arrive early for Saturday’s Red, White, and Blues. (Charles Atkeison)

Visitors to Casino Beach can have Breakfast with the Blues as the squadron arrives over the area at 8 a.m. on Wednesday. The six aircraft will perform circle and arrival maneuvers to refamiliarize with the area to ensure no new cranes or large structures have gone up recently.

The Blue Angels will then practice over the beach line on Thursday at 2 p.m., followed by a complete dress rehersal with each of Satursday’s air show aerobatic performers and close out with the Blues. Top aerobatic pilots Gary Ward, Skip Stewart, Kevin Coleman, and more will perform prior to the Blues beginning at noon.

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.

Pilot Kevin Coleman’s yellow Extra 300SHP aircraft will approach over the emerald waters as he begins with 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. The Pensacola Trolly will increase it’s free service from the mainland over to the beach from 7 a.m. to dark on Friday and Saturday.

“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,” Schrock added with a nod and a smile.

(Charles A. Atkeison reports on aerospace and science. Follow his updates on social media via @Military_Flight.)

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Charles Atkeison

Written by Charles Atkeison

Charles A Atkeison is a long time aerospace journalist having covered both military and civilian aviation, plus 30 space shuttle launches from Cape Canaveral. He has produced multimedia aerospace content for CNN, London's Sky News, radio, print, and the web for twenty years. From flying with his father at age 5 to soaring as a VIP recently with the Navy's Blue Angels and USAF Thunderbirds, Charles continues to enjoy all aspects of flight.

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