PENSACOLA, Fla. — As the sunshine and blue sky lay above the warm waves on Pensacola Beach, a pair of high performance jets soar over the northern gulf waters in a aerobatic display capturing the attention of the sunbathers below.
The twin U.S. Navy jets quickly break away in a planned maneuver and begin to soar higher into the cloudless sky. Suddenly, the jets ignite a white smoke trail which begins to trace their aerobatic flight path of twin circles.
The United States Navy’s elite Flight Demonstration Squadron is famously known to the public as the Blue Angels. The team’s blue and gold jets are a familiar sight and sound along the sugar sand beaches along the northern Gulf Coast just a few miles from their home at the Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The team’s public demonstration flight is the Navy’s most popular recruiting tool to attract interested young adults into a career with the military. The Blues also engage in promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math at schools across America.
Students at high schools and colleges across the nation working on technical degrees may look to the military to advance their professional skills during a brief period of service. Unlike most civilian jobs, the military’s job placement is larger, and those entering technical training will work with the newest technologies not yet available in a commercial career.
“The best way to begin the road to a successful career is to work hard in school, stay physically active, and refrain from illegal drug use,” said Blue Angels spokesperson LT David Gardner. “Additionally, it is helpful to serve in leadership roles and extracurricular activities. These principles apply in attaining a successful career both inside and outside the military.”
These words are not just for future aviators, but the for the men and women interested in all careers within aviation.
“When we come out and we open the jets and get them ready to fly, our number one thing is to have an awesome aircraft ready for the pilot when he gets in,” said AM2 Demaude Prescott, who maintains the jet’s air frames and hydraulics. “We have a great relationship with our pilots. We talk to them and we know where they’re from.”
The Navy is always looking for new achievers to grow in a specialized field. As the naval pilots prepare to fly, it is the sole job of the Blue Angels maintenance team to prepare the jets for flight each morning.
Prescott, who was raised in Atlanta, is an aircraft airframe mechanic whose job is to maintain the aircraft’s structure including the hydraulics. He and his team of twelve mechanics also verify the working conditions of the flight controls and the landing gear; and they also are ready to step up to perform structural repairs of their F/A-18 Hornets prior to the pilots’ arrival to climb aboard.
“We shake hands every time they go up and every time they come back down,” Prescott added. “That — right there — is what gets me up every day.”
(Charles A. Atkeison reports on aerospace and science. Follow his updates on social media via @Military_Flight.)