As we get WUWF’s look back at the major news stories of 2013 off the ground, we start with the Blue Angels – who spent most of the year on it.
The cancelation was announced in the wake of sequestration – mandated across-the-board cuts that trimmed 85 billion dollars from the federal budget. The squadron flew its kickoff show over Key West, before their first in-season grounding since the Korean Conflict.
The Naval Air Forces Command in San Diego released a prepared statement, saying that the Blue Angels until further notice would continue to “maintain flying proficiency” over NAS Pensacola.
The Blue Angels were not alone in the cockpit. Their Air Force counterparts, the Thunderbirds, were also grounded along with the Army’s Golden Knights parachute team.
Commander Tom Frosch, who flies Blue Angel Jet number-1, said their mission in 2013 – aside from proficiency flying – would be keeping a high profile in the community – such as autograph sessions at the Museum of Naval Aviation, and visits to area schools and civic groups.
Buck Lee, Executive Director of the Santa Rosa Island Authority, floated the idea of the Blue Angels flying a practice session over Santa Rosa Island -- with the Island Authority paying for the fuel. The Navy didn’t responded to the suggestion.
In a happy ending of sorts, the Blues performed a flyover at NAS Pensacola in November, marking the official end of the 2013 season. And the Navy announced that full funding would return for the squadron to perform an entire schedule in 2014, beginning as always in El Centro, California, their winter training venue.
That schedule includes the air show at Pensacola Beach on July 12th, and the annual homecoming aboard NAS Pensacola on November 7th and 8th.