Reporting Pat Sweeting
YPSILANTI (WWJ) – Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No… it’s the Blue Angels! As a highlight of the Yankee Air Museum’s “Thunder Over Michigan” Air Show, the world’s most famous military demonstration team, the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels, will return to Willow Run Airport.
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will be pushing their F-18 Hornets to the limit, displaying their speed, precision and daring maneuvers. “Fat Albert,” the Blue Angels’ support aircraft, will also be part of the show.
Watch below: WWJ’s Pat Sweeting talks with Captain Greg McWherter, Commanding Officer & Flight Leader
2011 Blue Angels Commanding Officer and Flight Leader Capt. Greg McWherter has been a U.S. Navy pilot for 21 years, flying with the Blue Angels for three. He said entertaining the crowd at the Air Show isn’t their only mission.
“We’re here to get folks excited about what their Sailors and Marines are doing out there in the world in the Navy and the Marine Corps. The average taxpayer doesn’t get a chance to see our Sailors and Marines performing what they do firsthand. So, if we can drop into their backyard and show them one small sample of that pride and professionalism, it’s a great way to pay back and a great piece of mind for the taxpayer,” McWherter said.
So what can attendees expect to see from the Blue Angels?
“They’re going to see the diamond formation with four planes, myself and my three wingmen, and that’s where we demonstrate that precision formation taught to all Navy and Marine Corps pilots. Meanwhile, while we’re off the show line, they’re going to see our two solos, Blue Angel 5 and 6, they’ll come by and do those high-speed, very dynamic maneuvers. And they demonstrate the max performance capabilities of the F-18,” McWherter said.
The United States Air Force F-16 Viper East Demo Team will also be returning to this year’s show. The F-16CJ is a single-seat, multi-mission fighter with the ability to switch from an air-to-ground to air-to-air role at the touch of a button. With its lightweight airframe and powerful engine generating 31,000 pounds of thrust, the F-16CJ can fly at speeds in excess of Mach 2.
In celebration of the Navy’s Centennial of Aviation, “Thunder Over Michigan” will showcase more than two dozen F/A-18 Hornets from across the country.
Also featured this year is a realistic air and ground reenactment of a WWII Pacific-theatre battle featuring a live flamethrower. Spectators will see three LVT’s transporting U.S. Marines to the front lines of battle in order to maneuver a ground assault on the Japanese emplacements. Simultaneously, two Japanese Zeros will be flying cover for the Japanese troops while six U.S Navy Corsairs enter the theatre and engage the two enemy aircraft in multiple aerial dogfights.
Other show highlights include a thrilling aerial dog fight between two legendary Vietnam War military aircrafts, the A-4 Skyhawk and a MIG-17. Plus, crowds will be able to see on display and take a tour of a MV-22 Osprey, an American multi-mission aircraft that combines the vertical flight capabilities and functionality of a helicopter with the speed and range of an airplane.
Tickets are $30 per adult, free for children 15 years and younger. Parking is $10 per vehicle. Gates open daily at 9 am. For more information, visit www.yankeeairmuseum.org/airshow.