By MC2 Amanda Cabasos
Two members of the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, The Blue Angels, visited NAS Jacksonville to meet with members of the station's air show committee on Jan. 21.
Blue Angels' Pilot/Narrator Lt. Ryan Chamberlain and Blue Angels' Event Coordinator Lt. Cmdr. Michael Cheng landed the No. 7 jet in front of the NAS Jax Air Operations Tower where they were greeted by NAS Jax Commanding Officer Capt. Roy Undersander, NAS Jax Executive Officer Capt. Howard Wanamaker and Air Show Director Cmdr. Mark McManus.
After a quick media interview with local news affiliates, Chamberlain and Cheng met with key personnel organizing the 2014 NAS Jax Air Show which will be held aboard the station Oct. 25-26 to discuss preseason details.
The air show alternates each year between NAS Jax and the City of Jacksonville (held at Jax Beach). But due to the cancellation of the event aboard the station last year as a result of the government sequestration, city and base officials decided NAS Jax would host the air show in 2014.
Undersander says he is excited to be hosting the event this year. "It was a big disappointment having to cancel the air show last year, however, we are grateful to the City of Jacksonville for working with us to host this event and are very pleased to get the Blues back," said Undersander.
"NAS Jax has always had a great relationship with the community. We like to show the American public the Navy's aviation prowess. This is a great opportunity for us to open up the base and let them see what the Navy and the military are all about."
During the meeting, Chamberlain gave a brief overview on the Blue Angels explaining that the group originated at NAS Jacksonville in 1946 under the director of former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Chester Nimitz. The team for formed in an effort to boost Navy morale, maintain a public interest in naval aviation and demonstrate naval air power.
"We are the oldest U.S. military aviation demonstration team in the world," said Chamberlain.
"Our mission is to showcase the pride and professionalism of the Navy and Marine Corps and inspire a culture of excellence and service to country by conducting flight demonstrations and community outreach. This is the core of where we are today."
Chamberlain and Cheng also discussed safety measures, community outreach events, show specifications and requirements, public relations and the timeline of events.
"The Blue Angels visit each air show site prior to the show to ensure we are all on the same page and understand their support requirements," said McManus.
"The air show is a huge event for NAS Jacksonville. In 2011, we had nearly 250,000 people attend. People love to see the Blue Angels fly so for them not to be here last year was disappointing. We are working hard to coordinate this event and plan to give the public another great show," he added.