11/28/06 — Wayne County could see Angels in the Sky

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Wayne County could see Angels in the Sky

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 28, 2006 1:45 PM

There was something different about the roar in the skies above Goldsboro shortly after noon Monday.

The high-pitched buzz was less commanding than the sound of an F-15E Strike Eagle coming in for landing, but the aircraft was just as exciting to those who caught a glimpse of the blue and yellow F/A-18 Hornet darting toward the runway at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Members of the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy's Flight Demonstration Squadron, landed their No. 7 jet on base Monday to conduct a survey of the grounds -- one of the final steps in a decision-making process that might lead to their performance at the 2007 Wings Over Wayne Airshow.

As Lt. Dan McShane climbed out of the cockpit, the North Carolina native said he was excited about the prospect of bringing the team to his home state.

"Oh, yeah," he said. "We're fired up about coming here."

No official announcement is expected until early next month, but the airmen at Seymour Johnson have already made a lasting impression on the team, McShane said. The base's application -- one of more than 2,000 the Angels received this year -- has made it through the first round of cuts.

And with only 250 applicants still in the running, McShane and teammate Maj. Nathan Miller were in Goldsboro to investigate the possibility of a performance even further.

"Seymour Johnson is already on our rough schedule," McShane said. "That's not an easy feat."

The base has been evaluated on a wide range of criteria -- can Seymour Johnson generate enough attendance, the proper recruitment opportunities and support for the Hornets?

"We're basically here to make sure the base has those amenities needed," McShane said.

So, he and his partner spent the afternoon with officials, gathering information, touring the base's facilities and giving presentations.

If Seymour Johnson lands the highly touted act for next year's airshow, the hospitality and professionalism demonstrated by those base personnel during their stay will have had a lot to do with it, the two pilots said.

And the show, if it comes, will be worth every minute they spent, McShane said.

"It's a real kick-butt performance," he said. "A lot of dynamic, high-performance flight. They're going to see a really cool front-line plane in its 20th year."