LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — The United States Navy Blue Angels will celebrate 75 years of aviation excellence during their first show of the year at the Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo in Lakeland.
Lieutenant Julius Bratton is one of the 17 officers who voluntarily serve with the Blue Angels, one of the oldest performing U.S. military aviation demonstration teams. Bratton serves as the team’s show narrator.
“Ever since I was 5 years old I wanted to fly planes, I didn’t have a particular plane in mind,” Bratton said. “We’ve gone from F6F hellcats all the way to twin dual after burning fighter jets and the process is amazing.”
The Blue Angels was founded in 1946 after the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Chester Nimitz, decided to create a flight exhibition team. Nimitz’s goal was to raise the public’s interest in naval aviation and boost Navy morale. And 75 years later, the team is still putting on jaw-dropping performances with that mission in mind.
“The mission of our team is to inspire the culture of excellence and service to our country, so when people see our flight demonstration, they get a small, very specific view of that where we train every day to put on a world class demonstration safely and consistently,” Bratton said.
A big part of the Blue Angels is serving the community. Lt. Bratton says the entire team loves helping the next generation of aviation professionals, and that’s what they plan to do during this year’s Sun N’ Fun.
For their 75th year, the team will debut two new jets at the expo, including the Super Hornet Fighter Jet.
“You’ll definitely notice that the jet is larger, it’s about 30% larger,” Bratton said.
It’s the first show where civilians can take a ride in the Super Hornet.
8 On Your Side’s Deanne King will be on the flight with Bratton.
For a schedule and more information, visit the event’s website.