Watch the Video of my Interview with a Blue Angels Pilot!

By: Lauren Tjaden


I’ve been touched by an Angel.

Well, not the kind that flutter down from heaven. But it was pretty thrilling nonetheless.

I was privileged to interview Opposing Solo Pilot Lieutenant C.J. Simonsen of the Blue Angels last week, and I was touched by what he said. Members of the Navy’s famed flight demonstration team (based in Pensacola) are rock stars by any standards, thrilling crowds with their precision flying and aerobatics. Yet high-flying C.J.’s feet seemed firmly planted on the ground, and his head was definitely not swollen.

The Lieutenant stressed that he was just one part of a large, well coordinated team effort, and that the Blue Angels were there to represent the women and men in uniform who serve our country. Listen to what he said!

If you want to watch the Blue Angels in action, you don’t need to wait for an airshow to soar into town. And I’m as serious as a stingray when I say you can watch them for free. Just wing over to the viewing area, located on the Museum Flight Line behind the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, for one of their regular practices. 

Practices begin at 8:30 a.m. and last about an hour on most Tuesday and Wednesday mornings through November 2011. Check out the most current practice schedule here. Following most of the Wednesday practices, you can snag an autograph from members of the Blue Angels inside the Museum – and maybe ask them a question or two of your own!

A Few Reasons You Should Watch the Blue Angels Perform

·    They fly as close to each other as 18 inches in their F/A-18 Hornets. Driving that close to someone would be risky!
·    They perform vertical rolls at a mind-boggling 15,000 feet.
·    Even more mind-boggling, they perform oh-so-low sneak passes at 50 feet
·    They fly as fast as 700 mph. That’s just under Mach 1!
·    They fly as slow as 120 mph – quite a speed range.
·    Because they’re the best, anywhere, anytime, and you’ve never seen anything so inspiring or beautiful.

What! You say you haven’t been to Pensacola? That’s as sad as a surfer without a swell, because it’s as sweet as a springtime strawberry.

A Few of the Reasons You Should Visit Pensacola

·    Wide, white-sand beaches nestled against the gulf’s emerald-colored waters. Pensacola Beach parking is free.
·    The National Naval Aviation Museum, which is fascinating and huge, lets you get up-close and touch many of the planes – and even climb in some of them! Admission is free.
·    A boatload of water sports, like parasailing and jet-skiing.
·    Shopping and dining.
·    A historic downtown, complete with charming brick streets, restaurants, boutiques and nightlife.
·    Fort Barrancas. Besides boasting a fascinating history, the fort is a photographer’s dream. It also boasts free admission.
·    Fabulous canoeing and float trips. I personally enjoy Adventures Unlimited in nearby Milton.
·    Abundant nature and wildlife

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