Meet the Pilots of the Blue Angels
The parades, the excitement, BBQ’s, climbing up on your grandmother’s roof to get a better view of the Blue Angels; this is Seafair. Every year we watch, eat, drink and enjoy, but do we really know who brings these smiles to our faces or the history behind what we see?
The Blue Angels are part of the United States Navy and are the flight demonstration squadron. They have been performing since 1946 and have flown for literally millions of spectators. Their mission is to enhance recruiting and to represent the Navy and Marine Corps to the world in a credible and positive way. They are well-known for their Diamond Formation and when the weather is nice they are able to perform the aerial acrobatics which they refer to as a high show, which is hopefully what we should be seeing this coming Sunday. Pilots serve at least two to three years. Meet the current roster:
Captain Greg McWherter; Commander/Leader: McWherter is an Atlanta, Georgia native and graduated from The Citadel with a degree in Civil Engineering. He became the commander of the Blue Angels in November of 2008 through 2010 but recently assumed the position once again after former commander Dave Koss stepped down due to a below-average show.
Lieutenant John Hiltz; Right Wing: Hiltz is from Fort Mitchell, Kentucky and got his degree in Civil Engineering from the University Of Notre Dame. He’s 6’5” and has been watching air shows since he was a little boy. This was his second time applying before he was selected for the coveted position.
Captain Brandon Cordill; Left Wing: Cordill is from Hemet, California and attended Parks College of Saint Louis University with a degree in Aeronautical Science. He is an avid ice hockey player and used to play for the San Diego Jr. Gulls.
Major Brent Stevens; Slot: Stevens hails from Knoxville, Tennessee and graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Physics. He has a young daughter and is the squadron’s only Marine pilot. He says his favorite part of being a Blue Angel is visiting schools and volunteering for hospitals.
Lieutenant C. J. Simonsen; Lead Solo: Simonsen is from Coon Rapids, Minnesota and graduated at the United States Naval Academy with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. This will be his third year and says it takes a lot of teamwork and trust to pull off the show efficiently.
Lieutenant David Tickle; Opposing Solo: Tickle comes from Birmingham, Alabama and also graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. His mother passed away on his first day of flight school, yet his family tries to make up for her not being physically there by being as supportive as possible and seeing as many shows as they can.
Lieutenant Mark Tedrow; Advance Pilot/Narrator: Tedrow is a native of Charleroi, Pennsilvania and graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a degree in History. He realized he wanted to become a Blue Angel after the first time he saw them. He was the pilot who took “American Idol” Kellie Pickler for a 45 minute flight.
So now that you know a little bit about them, be sure to cheer, be baffled and dazed this Sunday as you watch the Blue Angels soaring high above you. After all, they are just ordinary men doing extraordinary things. What is your favorite part of the show?
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