Part of that is budget. Military shows don't charge admission, they use all in-house labor, and don't make a ton of money what they do make is generally fed into the base MWR programs — Morale, Welfare, and Recreation. Part of that is some military shows "expect" you to be there. The Blues come every year as part of the military outreach and the show sites develop a sense of entitlement.
It's just a different reaction than when you make it to Janesville, WI once a decade. Our jet broke and a rescue crew was sent. Well, they arrived wildly ill-prepared for the weather. Literally they were working in 10 min shifts and then coming in to get warm.
A local sporting goods store popped for all our guys and gave them legit cold-weather gear to work in. Well each day our crew told us the jet was fixed and we would man-up to fly the maintenance mx check flight. Our area of ops was on the opposite side of Glacier National Park, so we had to fly through the Park to get there. It was amazing flying among the glaciers, zipping in and out. Absolutely breathtaking. For one reason or another, the jet didn't pass the check flight each day. The crew would work on it and say: "You're good to go for tomorrow. This went on for 5 days before we finally got out of there, so we had 5 flights over those amazing glaciers, and 5 nights thinking this was our last night to enjoy the town and people.
Great times. Being in such a public, high-profile job, how do the Blue Angels get to have some fun and let their hair down on the road? Never fear, there are plenty of opportunities for the Blues to "light their hair on fire". First of all, as described above, on Saturday and Sunday the workday basically starts around noon, so folks can go out pretty late and still get back to the hotel for a full night's rest prior to kicking it into gear on show day.
Also, the schedule above depicts a standard show week.
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Typically three to four times a year the Blues embark on a "Long Trip", which is a string of shows together without coming home to Pensacola typically one Long-Trip to the NE, one to the SW, one to the NW, and sometimes one other. However an added benefit is during these long trips the team typically gets two sometimes three days off in whatever city, USA they happen to be in.
Game on, the world is my oyster! Also, the Blues become very adept at sniffing out the local hotspots and gravitating towards them. I do want to emphasize however, that despite the fact the Blues are on the road with potential opportunities to party their rears off as local celebrities sometimes, there is no question that each individual recognizes the fact that we are representing all the other USN and USMC servicemen and women out there and appropriate behavior and decorum must prevail.
The penalty for overstepping these bounds can be swift and harsh. Everyone knows we operate under a microscope of public scrutiny and there is no tolerance for untoward buffoonery. As I mentioned above, the folks on the Blues are Sailor of the Year quality and get it. Very rarely was I privy to behavior that exceeded what most people would consider normal acceptable behavior for a group of year olds. The Blues are also exceptional at using the "buddy system.
For me I used golf to help temper my behavior. As we essentially had to be at work by noon on Sat and Sun, we would need to be done with golf no later than about That means we were teeing off at , leaving the hotel around , getting up at That meant 1 night a weekend I had to cash it in early to get some decent rest and limited my late nights out to one night a weekend. This was just my personal technique. How does all this differ from deployment? Much different. Besides the obvious that you are sleeping in nice hotels and eating in restaurants instead of sleeping in a 6-man on the boat and eating chicken in the Dirty Shirt Wardroom, think of the mission: The Blues fly the same thing, every day.
The warriors on the front end are preparing to go into battle, potentially kill people, protect our troops on the ground and possibly get shot at…. The Blues flight, while dangerous, high pressure, and high stress, lasts 45 min. A typical mission off the boat "in country" lasts hours.
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The Blues see a new city every week, can enjoy a beer with dinner every night, can go for a jog. Guys on the boat step foot on land, drink a beer and sleep in a room by themselves a few times per deployment, maybe days every other month if they're lucky. Not saying it's easy being on the road days a year, it's very, very hard, but it's difficult to compare it to deployment. What is similar is the camaraderie in the ready room.
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The Blues have 16 officers in the ready room who are as close as 16 people can get at least on my teams in it was like this. As mentioned above, I believe this is a product of picking your own and of shared experiences. Likewise the guys and gals in my fleet squadrons after a couple deployments were very tight-knit. Especially the 5 other guys I shared a 6-man stateroom with for 2 cruises! I think the biggest difference is for those guys with families. For a deployment, you say goodbye and return six to nine months later.
The Blues season is basically a deployment in four day spurts. You leave on Thursday, come home on Sunday.
Very difficult for families to get into any kind of routine. Dad comes home on Sunday and is a hero for three days and then leaves again and Mom has to deal with everything or roles can be reversed, as appropriate. As for wild memories — there are some suitable for publishing, others maybe not. Here's a good story that also sheds some light on the unique Blue Angel 7 and 8 relationship:. Winter show site visits, time in the desert at winter training, time in the caravans, time on the narration stand, and time doing all those other things that two friends that treat each other like brothers spend time doing.
https://saconsnarea.gq This story is one from my second year , when my 7 was LT Kevin "Kojak" Davis who tragically perished when he crashed in his 6 jet the following year at Beaufort SC on the 21st of April, I loved every single second I spent with Kevin. I cherish his friendship, the example he set, and our shared experiences as much as I treasure anything in this world.
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Although most of the team thinks we are out goofing around all over the country, there's actually a lot of work to be done. This story is from Chicago:. The Chicago airshow is one of the premier and most demanding airshows we fly. It is run by a wonderful man named Rudy Malnati, who is Chicago through and through. If I didn't know him I would swear he is Mafia. He's a big man, owns a few pizza restaurants, works on the mayor's staff, and knows everyone in town.
Well, when I spoke with him he said we would be picked up by one of his boys, Jimmy The Jeweler. Well, I told this to Kojak and we were like "what? Jimmy The Jeweler? Maybe this guy IS mafia!! We do our visit, check out the show site, brief the airshow committee and then that night Rudy takes us out to a late dinner at one of his Pizza Restaurants. Rudy is a great host and feeds us more pizza, lasagna, and beer than should ever be fed to 2 people, especially ones that need to put on a tight blue flight suit the next day. The next morning we get to the field around 10am, still groaning from how full our stomachs were.
Rudy gives us a big sweaty hug and says "hey you boys hungry? What, you want a steak for lunch, DeJuila which sounded like The Jeweler get these boys some steaks. We don't need a steak. Besides the fact that Kojak and I talked with a Chicago accent for the better part of the next week. So fast-forward 8 months to the weekend of the Chicago show. Kevin went up there with his crew chief, I think it was Deo, on Wednesday, and I got up there on Thursday with the rest of the team.
The first thing I always asked Kojak upon arrival was "how's the show site doing," because he was essentially executing the plan that I had put together. The Jeweler asks "you want chocolate or strawberry? The Jeweler hands Kojak a chocolate shake and asks "what about your crew chief, does he want a shake? The Jeweler asks "what flavor does he want, chocolate or strawberry?