The reason angels can fly is because they take themselves lightly. ~G.K. Chesterton, "Orthodoxy"
The pilots of the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, known as the Blue Angels, are legends. Their shows are legendary as well.
Based out of Pensacola, these pilots fly their F/A-18 A Hornets – sleek machines priced at a cool $21 million each – as close to each other as 18 inches. They soar as high as 15,000 feet and as low as 50 feet; they fly as fast as 700 mph and as slow as 120 mph.
And you can meet some of these super-pilots. You can talk to them. Ask them questions. Shake their hands and be inspired by them. You can do it for free, too, every Wednesday from now through Oct. 30, 2013, at 11:30 a.m. at the Atrium of the National Naval Aviation Museum, located on Pensacola Naval Air Station.
While you’re at the admission- free Museum, you can experience hands-on history and see more than 4,000 artifacts and over 150 beautifully restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aviation. You can even experience the thrill of flight in the Flight Simulators. The Museum also offers an IMAX Theatre and as well as the authentic Cubi Bar Café.
I never miss a visit when I go to Pensacola.
In fact, I had the privilege of meeting some of the Angels myself several years ago. The pilots were an amazing group, clean-scrubbed, handsome individuals, ruggedly fit, admired by everyone. It would be easy for people held in such esteem to get a little snotty. But they weren’t. They were accessible, friendly, geared towards working as a team, emphasizing how their success was due to the entire staff, and that as pilots, they were just a small part of a large effort.
Unbelievably, I also got to fly with the Blue Angels in Fat Albert in the Pensacola Beach Air Show that year. The flight was crazy, and not entirely pleasant. It was sort of like being inside a dryer. It was definitely the thrill of a lifetime. But that’s another story for another day.
In the meantime, I hope you go meet these pilots for yourself.
They are true American heroes.