Seeing the Selfridge Air National Guard Air Show is spectacular. Adding to the high-flying visual stimulation were the Navy’s Blue Angels, which magnified the thrills even more powerfully. It has been eight years since the Blue Angels have been to Selfridge, and getting a behind-the-scenes look at the goings-on is almost as amazing as the air show itself.
Guided by Technical Sergeant (TSgt) Aaron Casteel, the tour started in the hangars with a close-up look at the ethanol planes that are piloted by an all-women team. Pictured here is one of the planes, and looking at it is deceptive, as this little beauty was pulled out of the hangar by one man using one hand. Considering that the winds were nearing 20 miles per hour, the control these pilots have while flying in formation was that much more amazing. There was a total of four of these planes, and the women flew them in tight formation, much like a slower version of the show’s stars, the Blue Angels.
In years past, the stars of the air show included Michigan’s own 127th Red Devils, the elite flying squadron based out of Selfridge, and is just one of the amazing aircraft that call this base home. The A10 Thunderbolt or Warthog is also a part of this base and is the particular favorite of TSgt Casteel, as he is the tactical aircraft maintenance journeyman, and part of the team that keeps these planes safe and ready to fly. The A10 Warthogs started out each show this weekend with impressive skills and speed. Adults and children alike kept their eyes to the sky during the hometown favorites’ high-flying antics.
Many people came out to see the elite team of the Blue Angels, and the squadron did not disappoint. Led by a Michigan hometown hero, Lieutenant Frosh and his team flew the Boeing FA18 aircraft and were equally impressive whether one attended on the base itself or by boat. An opportunity to see the Angels up close and personal was given to both the fans on land as well as those on the water. Based in Florida, this precision flying team took to the air to perform in front of thousands of fans that took advantage of the only time the Michigan base is open to the public. This year, visitors came from all over Michigan and took over the base with roughly 200,000 to 300,000 attendees throughout the weekend. Pictured below is the Blue Angels’ take-off from Selfridge, as well as a fly-over view from the water.
It is quite impressive when planes turn on the smoke, and the Blue Angels were no exception. You could hear these jets long before you could see them. What many do not know is that the Angels stay in tight formation as they taxi the runway as well as when they take off. The FA18 aircraft reached speeds of up to 500 miles per hour during the show, and this alone allowed many more citizens to witness the show, as the planes had to fly out for miles to turn around.
Although the smaller aircraft that were a part of the show stayed closer to the crowds and did not require as much airspace to perform, they were not as impressive a sight to those out in their boats. The crowd size was not smaller out on the water, and boats kept entering the bay and anchoring right up until the Angels took to the runway.
However, the experience was quite different when considering whether one participated by land or sea, and those lucky enough to come by boat were able to greatly enjoy the elite squadron flying directly overhead. The sound is something that one cannot describe; it is something that has to be experienced. The planes were so close that the details of the planes and the words printed on them could be readily seen. The picture here is of two of the planes flying directly over the water, to the excited shouts and boat horns of the fans that viewed the show from the bay.
The last picture shown here is of the amazing formation that the Blue Angels held, called “minimum separation.” With just 15 inches separating them, it sometimes seemed that there were less than four planes in the air. Precision, dedication and practice was evident in every twist, turn and pass made by the squadron.
The show consisted of four Angels flying in formation while two others performed pass-by stunts that took the crowd’s breath away. Only momentarily did all six fly together. All that attended this air show would tell others that attendance is well worth it, whether it is just to show your support for the armed forces, or to see one of the most spectacular and thrilling shows by the one-of-a-kind Navy Blue Angels.
Opinion by Kristi Cereska