The Blue Angels Soar Back Into the Spotlight To Record Crowds

blue angels pic
The Blue Angels Soar Back Into the Spotlight To Record Crowds
By: Kelly Woodard

The Blue Angels have proved you can’t clip their wings forever as the U.S. Navy's iconic flying team took to the skies again on Wednesday for the first time in nearly a year after the team was grounded because of forced spending cuts.
Record crowds packed Pensacola NAS for the first public practice of the season. The more than 25,000 fans erupted in a roar as the Blues took to the sky, and it was obvious that the ‘boys in Blue’ have been missed.
Jeanie Skofowitz, a visitor from Lansing, Michigan, said, “It’s something we always looked forward to when we came down this way for our annual visit. We missed it so much last year, and it just feels right seeing them do what they do best again.”
Local resident James Baxter agreed adding, “The Blue Angels are a part of who we are as a city. Having them back in the air over our homes is a great feeling. I’m proud to live in the Blue’s hometown. Hearing them scream past us regularly is such a privilege.”
While fans are ecstatic to have these local heroes putting on a show once again, the Blue Angels team says they too are overjoyed to be back at it. "Our mission is to connect with the American public. Last year, we weren't able to do that with our demonstrations, so we did it with community outreach. This year it will be great to do both," said Lt. Cmdr. David Tickle, pilot of the Blues Angels' No. 5 jet in the lead solo position.
Blue Angel Cmdr. Tom Frosch added, "It just really makes you realize it's a special thing and you never know how long it will last. We take what we do very seriously, and we are so proud to back in the air and putting smiles on people’s faces."
It isn’t just the pilots and their fans who are happy that the Blues are home. Local businesses are hoping that the scheduled practices and airshows will help bring back some of the lost revenue they suffered after last year’s cancelations.
An economic impact study of the 2012 Blue Angels Pensacola Beach Airshow alone concluded that it generated about $2.4 million for the local economy along with $622,000 in wages paid to employees, according to the University of West Florida Haas Center that conducted the study. This was all lost in 2013 after the show was canceled.
Pensacola Beach business owner Amanda Fontaine said, “Our store definitely suffered an economic loss after the July airshow was cancelled last year. We depend on the crowds from that weekend every year. Even though we still had a show last year, the numbers just weren’t there. We are so happy that the Blue Angels are back in business for the show this year, and hope to see even more record breaking crowds on the island this July.”
The team is scheduled for 68 performances at 35 locations between now and November 8
th including the July 12th Pensacola Beach show and the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show November 7th through 9th.