Fall fly-by: Blue Angels stop in Unity to discuss 2015 show
Two members of the Navy’s Blue Angels left an airfield outside Detroit in a Boeing F/A-18 Hornet on Tuesday morning and landed about 200 miles away at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport near Latrobe half an hour later.
Capts. Jeff Kuss and Corrie Mays, who are among the precision flying team’s newest recruits, have been flying from one community to another to prepare for next year’s slate of air shows. The airport in Unity was their final stop before heading back to their base in Pensacola, Fla., to take some time off for Thanksgiving.
During the preliminary airfield visits, which last only a few hours, Kuss and Mays meet with airport officials to discuss their needs for the upcoming show.
The Blue Angels are accompanied to each show by more than 40 people and plenty of special equipment, and they work with airports to make sure everything is in place for their show, Kuss said.
“We’re going to all the show sites all over the country for the next couple months,” he said.
Mays is the Blue Angels’ events coordinator. Calls and emails from airport officials around the country will fill her time during the next few months as airports prepare for the year’s shows.
“To be able to meet them face-to-face before we begin is very nice,” she said.
Both captains joined the Blue Angels in September.
Kuss, a Navy pilot who served aboard an aircraft carrier during the war in Afghanistan, will be the air show narrator during his first year with the Blue Angels, relaying the action to the crowd. He expects to take to the sky to perform in the shows by his second year.
Joining the Blue Angels, he said, is a dream come true.
“To have a chance to represent my brothers and sisters in the Navy and Marine Corps is a complete honor. It’s been a dream of mine for a long time,” he said.
“It’s really special. We’re super excited,” she said.
Mays, a Marine Corps pilot who has served in the Middle East, helps coordinate the shows.
“We try our hardest wherever we are to have as much contact as we can with as many people as we can,” she said.
The Blue Angels have been performing at the Westmoreland County airport on and off since the 1970s, said Gabe Monzo, executive director of the county airport authority.
“When you have somebody like the Blue Angels come in, it’s a big part of what the recruiting does to try to bring people into the Navy and into the Marines, and that’s what we’re trying to help them with,” he said.
Arnold Palmer Regional Airport’s next air show will be June 20 and 21.
Jacob Tierney is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6646 or [email protected].