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Blue Angels wrap up preseason tour in St. George

By Dave McCann | Posted - Mar 1st, 2014 @ 1:43pm

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ST. GEORGE — The Blue Angles were in St. George Friday, rehearsing for an air show tour that will take place this summer.

It takes a lot of careful planning to coordinate and choreograph an air show to ensure the safety of pilots, ground crew and spectators.

The pilots fly as close as 18 inches apart and as low as 50 feet from the ground while going as much as 700 miles per hour.

Five months before their planned show in St. George, the Blue Angels are already running through the weekend events. But this summer's show has been in the works for even longer.

“This is a show that we have been planning for two years,” said the show’s director, Kevin Walsh.

From pilot safety to the safety of the spectators on the ground, there's a long to-do list for every single aspect of the show.

For everything you see in the sky, for everything you see on the ground … there’s a list of thing that we had to meet,” Walsh said. “And to get all of the key players together, to get the understanding of what the Blue Angels need and require, it’s paramount for the success of the show.”

The Blue Angles visit 34 cities each year, and each one requires different preparation specific to that city.

“Every single city has a different layout, different obstacles and challenges other cities may not have,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Cheng, Blue Angel pilot No. 8.

The weather and geographic features of each city makes flying conditions unique.

“The heat makes things more difficult, the terrain will make things more difficult. But that’s why we have this extensive planning that takes place ahead of time,” said Lt. Ryan Chamberlain, Blue Angel No. 7.

But the planning is worth it when everything comes together for an incredible show.

“If the public, when they come out for the air show and they don’t notice anything other than the demonstration, then everybody’s done a great job,” Walsh said.

The Blue Angles wrapped up their preseason planning tour in St. George Friday. They'll be back for the big show — “The Thunder Over Utah” — July 26-27.


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