TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Two members of the Blue Angels visited MacDill Air Force Base on Tuesday for a meeting regarding the Tampa Bay Air Fest.
The extremely popular air show will be held March 27 through March 29 at the base. It will be headlined by the Blue Angels for the second year.
A Blue Angels pilot and the Blue Angels #8 Events Coordinator flew from Pensacola to begin meeting with MacDill and FAA officials about safety protocols.
Lieutenant Commander Adam Kerrick said they were happy to be in Tampa and are excited about the upcoming show.
“Well, the weather’s beautiful. We just came from up north so we’re enjoying the weather so far. I’m sure it’ll be beautiful in March, so we’re excited to be here,” Commander Kerrick said.
Colonel Stephen Snelson is the Commander of the 6th Air Fueling Wing at MacDill.
He’s been stationed here in Tampa for 15 months, but said he’s never seen a relationship like the community of Tampa has with a base.
Last year, Tampa Bay Air Fest won the Department of Defense’s Best Military and Community Cooperation for an air show.
Colonel Snelson said having a huge main act like the Blue Angels are critical to the air show.
“We’re going to have a lot of great acts from the Geico Sky Typers to a number of historical airplanes, but getting that headline act like the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds, it’s important. We’re very, very appreciative that the Blue Angels are coming this year,” he explained.
There is also a personal aspect for Colonel Snelson and other airmen. His father took him to an air show when he was a little kid.
“And I saw the Air Force Thunderbirds perform. And that really lit a fire in me that made me think, ‘maybe the Air Force might be something I want to do.’ And lo and behold and all these years later and 22 years of service, I’m still an airman to this day,” he smiled.
Lieutenant Commander Kirrick has a similar story.
His grandfather was a Navy veteran who served in World War II which inspired him to attend the Naval Academy and eventually, the Blue Angels.
“I’ve always had a fascination with Navy aviation, being able to take off and land at a boat at seaway always fascinating to me,” he explained.
“And I saw the Blue Angels when I was a young man in Bellegrove, Pennsylvania and that’s what really inspired me to go into Naval aviation.”
A total of 16 officers voluntarily serve with the Blue Angels and return to their fleet after their tours of duty, typically serving two years with the team.
The Blue Angels’ mission is to “showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to our country through flight demonstrations and community outreach.”
“Every member understands and embraces the importance of teamwork and strives daily to ensure our flight demonstration exemplifies the pride, professionalism, and precision found in every facet of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps,” a statement from the Commanding Officer reads.