Blues Wrap Up 2015 Performance Season
Thousands of Blue Angels fans will crowd aboard NAS Pensacola on Friday and Saturday, for the flight demonstration team’s homecoming, and season-ending, performance.
2015 took the Blues across the United States, beginning in March above their winter home in El Centro, California; 68 performances at 38 venues later, the season closes at home.
Capt. Tom Frosch is also wrapping up his time as team commander. But his thoughts this weekend will be the same, as they were during his first show in 2013.
“Put on a safe show, and do it the same way we did on our first show [in 2015],” said Frosch.
Much has happened with the Blue Angels since Frosch took over the Number-1 jet – a shutdown of the federal government that robbed them of most of the 2013 season, and a sexual harassment scandal in 2014 involving a past commanding officer, in which Frosch was cleared of any wrongdoing. But he says the positives far outweigh all else.
“A tremendous sense of pride, just being around so many incredible people from the Fleet and from the Marine Corps,” said Frosch. “It’s really been a privilege to have the opportunity to be able to represent all 500,000 men and women serving around the world.”
On Sunday, Frosch turns over command to Commander Ryan Bernacchi for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. After that, he’ll will continue his Navy career, literally down the road from the flight line at the Naval Education Training Center.
While those attending a Blue Angels show see the aviators, the entire team is made up of about 130 personnel with various jobs on the ground, to keep the FA-18 Hornets in the air. Among them is Aviation electronics technician Keyetta Penn, who works on communications, navigation and radar systems.
Penn is finishing up her first year with the Blue Angels, and says it’s been a good experience. Like the aviators, the ground and support crews also submit applications to join the team.
“Being from Jacksonville, Florida – the originator of the Blue Angels – I’ve seen them fly for years,” said Penn. I didn’t think
“I watched them in the backyard growing up as a kid, so it was kind of surreal when I was told I had the opportunity to apply for the Blue Angels when I joined the Navy,” said Matthew Rhodes -- an aviation structural mechanic and a native of Pensacola. He’ll have another duty this weekend, serving as First Mate for Blue Angels boss Tom Frosch.
After the show and the change of command, the Blue Angels – old and new – will move to El Centro, California for about ten weeks of training. In 2016, the Blues will celebrate their 70th anniversary. Since taking wing in 1946 in F-6 Hellcats, the squadron has performed for almost a half-billion fans.