05/11/07 — Blue Angels practice maneuvers

View Archive

Blue Angels practice maneuvers

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 11, 2007 1:46 PM

As aviators fired up six F-18 Hornets on the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base flight line late Thursday afternoon, those setting up for Saturday's Wings Over Wayne air show couldn't help but stop and watch.

They must have known what they were hearing -- the Blue Angels were about to take flight.

While still mourning the loss of their teammate, Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Davis, members of the U.S. Navy's precision flying team said they were glad to get back in the skies over awestruck fans and young admirers.

Saturday will mark the first time the Angels have performed since Davis' fatal crash in the team's No. 6 jet last month during a performance over Beaufort, S.C. Teammate Lt. Cmdr. John Allison said it is always hard to lose a friend and fellow pilot.

"I'm always going to carry that with me," he said. "He was a good friend of mine -- a great pilot, a great friend and a great naval officer."

But there is still a job to do.

"Well, we took about two and a half weeks off there, but it's really good to be back flying," Allison said. "We're just trying to look ahead -- to focus on the positive things. We're here to represent the United States Navy and the Marine Corps. If we're not up there doing our job, we're not representing them the way we should."

The Angels are scheduled to perform at 3 p.m. -- the final act in a long line of performers that will include Seymour Johnson's own F-15E Strike Eagle Demonstration Team, the U.S. Army Golden Knights and Tora! Tora! Tora!

Allison said he hopes the Angels will send the crowd home on a high note.

"We're excited," he said. "It's a great place to fly, a nice base."

And they look forward to meeting some of the people -- particularly the youngest among the crowd -- who will turn out for what they anticipate will be a "great day."

"That's definitely the best part -- working with the children," Allison said. "If just one kid leaves here thinking that, hey, he might become a pilot or he's inspired to do something that he wouldn't have normally thought he would do, we've done our jobs."

"Come on out and see the show," he added. "If you don't, you're definitely missing out."

Only five jets will fly during Saturday's performance.

And while no decision has yet been made on whether or not the team will honor Davis with the missing-man formation at the end of their program, Allison said one thing is certain.

"We're always going to carry a little piece of him with us," he said.