No matter how long you’ve lived in Dayton, or how familiar you are with the Vectren Dayton Air Show, it’s always a bit surprising when you hear the roar of fighter jets overhead on an average weekday morning. If you were looking up on Thursday morning, you likely saw the Delta formation of the prestigious United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron making their (very fast) way to the Dayton International Airport. More commonly known as the Blue Angels, they have been a delight to fans and a centerpiece of airshows across the country for decades. Once again, we welcome them to Dayton!
The Blue Angels are comprised of an elite group of servicemembers from the Navy and Marines. While many see the aerobatics of the F/A-18 Hornets, not everyone knows that it takes a team to get those pilots in the jets. The crew arrives early in the recognizable “Fat Albert”- the name affectionately given to the C-130 cargo plane. Fat Albert serves as more than just a utilitarian people mover. You will see what that large plane is capable of as the Blue Angels begin their demonstration. If you’re an air show aficionado, you may remember the JATO take off from years past. This huge propeller plane actually took off with jet assistance! Though that impressive feat ended in 2009, we happen to know that Fat Albert still has a few tricks up his sleeve.
Part of the crew that keeps the Blue Angels flight-ready is from right here in our backyard. AM1 (AW) Bobby Meagher is a 1998 graduate of Norwood High School in Cincinnati. He is part of the airframes division of the squadron. The Blue Angels are among the oldest F/A-18’s in the fleet and require quite a bit of maintenance to keep them in performance condition. Petty Officer Meagher has been maintaining the Blue Angels for almost 3 years now. Born at WPAFB to 2 Air Force parents, he enlisted in the Navy and first heard of the Blue Angels at his first command. Realizing the enormous opportunity, he set out to be part of this squadron. He’s looking forward to seeing friends and family while he’s close to home, and of course, enjoying some LaRosa’s pizza!
At the helm of this squadron is CDR Thomas Frosch. He is the Commanding Officer, and pilot of the #1 jet. Known as “Boss” to the crew, it is his responsibility to not only oversee all of the operations of the Blue Angels, but also be the lead for all flight demonstrations. When asked how he enjoyed the flyover of Cincinnati en route to Dayton, he said, “It was great, it’s the best way to see a city, flying overhead. Of course, I’m the only one that got to enjoy it, I was looking down while the rest of them were looking at me, as they’re supposed to, they’re the wingmen!”. If you’ve ever wondered how they fly in such close proximity to each other, there’s your answer. The Boss leads the way, and the rest of the highly skilled pilots follow suit. Pretty impressive to say the least.
So, how does one become a Blue Angel? Well, for CDR Frosch, the seed was planted early. As a 6 year old from Clinton Township Michigan, he remembers seeing them perform for the first time. When asked what his inspiration was, the expected answer was, of course, Top Gun. With a slight laugh, he said that it was actually The Final Countdown (a movie about the USS Nimitz going back in time to the day before Pearl Harbor) that first inspired him to want to take off and land from an aircraft carrier. When asked what was harder, performing the exact flight maneuvers that the Blue Angels are known for, or landing on a carrier, the emphatic answer was, “landing on a carrier at night is the hardest thing to do”. Interesting perspective when you consider that in all of Naval Aviation, that is really the backbone. There are squadrons deployed all over the world on carriers. In fact, it’s likely that as you are reading this, somewhere there is a jet landing or taking off from an aircraft carrier doing the job that the Navy has been tasked with.
Honor. Courage. Commitment.
Those 3 words are the epitome of service in the United States Navy. You can see the realization of those 3 words when you have an opportunity to see this squadron in action. From the way they move through the air, to the way the ground crew works together so seamlessly, you will walk away with a new appreciation for the Sailors and Marines serving our country. The mission of the Blue Angels is to inspire all who come to see them. And inspire they do!
Knowing that the Vectren Dayton Air Show is a family event, we asked for one tidbit of advice for the children who may come out to see the shows this weekend, that may find themselves inspired by what they see. CDR Frosch replied, “Teamwork. Teamwork is the foundation for everything that we do. From the ground to the air crew, the focus is on teamwork. Of course STEM is always important, but you don’t have to be an engineer to fly”. Communication and trust are paramount to the safety and performance excellence that we will get to see this weekend.
But wait, there’s more…
Though the Blue Angels are the highlight for many, aviation fans of all kinds will find something to interest them at the Vectren Dayton Air Show. Naturally, the Birthplace of Aviation will have a Wright B Flyer on hand, and with WPAFB a cornerstone of our community, the Air Force will be well represented – including the Wings Of Blue Parachute Team! You can find the full air show schedule here. There are many ticket options and you can see them here.
No matter what attraction sparks your interest, you’re sure to enjoy the aviation fun that has become a much-loved tradition in the Dayton area!
You can see some of the airshow excitement on Instagram! Our own Nikki Nett (@nikkisayswhat) will be running the Dayton Baton (@daytonbaton) on Saturday. You can double tap those pictures until your heart is content!