Since January 2, the United States Navy Blue Angels have been in El Centro, California completing their annual Winter Training in which the demonstration pilots fly the necessary 120 practice flights prior their first public aerial demonstration. The Imperial Valley graced the team with another Winter full of good weather, helping ease Commander Bernacchi's transition into the 2016 Commanding Officer and Flight Leader role. Lt. Lance Benson is the other new addition to the famous Blue Angel Diamond, and Captain Jeff Kuss made the switch from narrator to the opposing solo position. Major Mark Montgomery also joins the team as the new C-130 pilot, in which he flies the most famous C-130 Hercules in the world, Fat Albert, with help from Captain Katie Higgins and Major Mark Hamilton.
The team opened up their season March 12th in El Centro, and completed their final week of practice last week over the desert before heading north to Lancaster, California, home of the 2016 Los Angeles County Air Show.
Today, the team departs Fox Field in Lancaster bound for Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, home of the team for the duration of the air show season. The Blue Angel Delta is expected to be over the panhandle of Florida around 2:00 pm central time this afternoon, and will be flying over Downtown Pensacola at 2:30 pm before touching down at Naval Air Station Pensacola shortly after. The City of Pensacola encourages all fans to come out and support the team and welcome them home, and the flyover will be best seen from Palafox Street downtown. After the team touches down, they'll make an appearance at the National Museum of Naval Aviation at 3:00 pm, in which they'll meet and greet with fans.
In 2016, the Blue Angels celebrate their 70th anniversary as worldwide ambassadors for Naval Aviation. The team is scheduled to visit 32 cities and perform 63 flight demonstrations in front of millions of people. For more information on the team and when they'll be visiting a city near you, visit https://www.blueangels.navy.mil/.