by Jeff Flynn
Published in Midwest Flyer – August/September 2017 issue
Most pilots would give their left aileron to fly in a Blue Angels jet. However, we all realize that the price of admission is much, much, higher. It takes years of training, dedication, and sacrifice. Yet, what did I see at a recent airshow practice? That’s right, someone sitting in the back seat of Blue Angel #2. How does this happen? Is there some kind of Top Gun lottery?
As far as I could tell, Blue Angel #2 is the only jet in the performance team that has a second seat. I get that the Blues give demo rides to various dignitaries and media representatives when they come to town – normally in Number 7. But during a no kidding performance! Sign me up.
I can just imagine what the preflight briefing would sound like. “Alright Jeff, we have three rules: First, if you feel the need to see your lunch again – here is a bag – keep it to yourself. I’ll be flying 36 inches off of the Skipper’s wingtip and I need to focus. Second, do you see all of those buttons and switches? Good. Don’t touch anything. Third, if I say Eject, Eject, Eject, GET READY, its going to get very loud and very windy.”
This scene got me thinking about the best way for us mere mortals to view an airshow. Obviously, being in the backseat of Blue Angel #2 is unrealistic for most, so here is my list of some of the best ways to see an airshow:
1) Buy a ticket.
2) Be a performer.
3) Be a volunteer (great parking and practice day is like watching a personal airshow).
4) Attend as a vendor (same benefits as a volunteer, but you may get some business out of it, too).
5) Static aircraft display crewmember.
Whatever you do, please try to bring a kid with you and let them feel the inspiration that comes from attending these magical events. Also, spend some time thanking the members of our Armed Services who not only participate in the airshows, but protect us every day.