One Less Day of Flying to 'Save Money'
The Navy tells ANN that the elite
"Blue Angels" demonstration team will cut its Tuesday practice in
an effort to save money. The 6 F/A-18 Hornets will continue their
Wednesday-Sunday flight schedule, and none of the teams' remaining
performances for 2009 have been cut.
According to a report in The Miami Herald, the Tuesday and
Wednesday practices normally draw between 3000 and 6000 people to
the Museum of Naval Aviation, which is located next door to the
Blue Angels headquarters at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida.
Museum officials were concerned that cancellation of the popular
Tuesday practice could hurt attendance at the museum.
But Bob Rasmussen, a retired Navy captain, former Blue Angel and
the museum's director, told reporters he isn't worried that cutting
practice times will compromise the safety of the pilots or people
on the ground. "The longer you do this in the course of an air show
season, the more proficient you normally are. After you've done it
for several months day-in and day-out it becomes almost second
nature," he said.
And Rasmussen said considering the difficult spending choices
being forced on military leaders, a cut in flying days was not
entirely unexpected. "The people at the point of the spear get the
highest priority and everybody understands that including the Blue
Angels," he said.
An estimated 15 million spectators view the squadron during air
shows each year. Additionally, the Blue Angels personally see more
than 50,000 people a show season, which runs March through
November, at school and hospital visits.
The Department of Defense, as you might expec
t, receives hundreds of requests to hold air shows featuring the
Navy Blue Angels. After DOD screens requests for basic eligibility,
they are forwarded to the Blue Angels’ Commanding Officer.
The squadron reviews each air show request, considering input from
the Chief of Naval Information and Navy Recruiting Command. In
December, the Blue Angels' Events Coordinator, along with Navy and
Department of Defense officials, meet at a scheduling conference in
Washington, D. C. for final considerations and approval.