ST. GEORGE, Utah - After a year off due to federal cutbacks, the US Navy Blue Angels are planning their return to Utah this summer. Friday they made a winter visit to go over a few details.
“We bring a pretty big footprint,” said Blue Angel No. 7 Lt. Ryan Chamberlain. “When you bring seven F-18s and a C-130 support aircraft, we don’t exactly just take up a small part of the ramp.”
The Blue Angels first brought their high-flying stunt show to St. George in 2012, and they said it was one of the most memorable of the season.
“Our 2013 lithograph, which is kind of the nice print that we make each year, was of the Zion National Park,” Chamberlain said. “That’s how special it was for us, obviously when you’ve got a background like this, it’s hard not to appreciate the beauty that St. George has to offer.”
Like any aviation pursuit, the weather plays a large role into what the Blue Angels can do in the air, so they have to plan accordingly. It rained during their visit Friday, but in the summer, temperatures can reach into the hundreds, so they plan for every possible scenario.
“The heat, it makes things a little bit more difficult,” Chamberlain said. “The terrain will make things a little bit more difficult. But that’s why we have this extensive planning that takes place ahead of time.”
A crowd of local Boy Scouts and ROTC cadets greeted the pilots on their arrival. Desert Hills High School junior Quentin Hatch said meeting the Blue Angels is something they’ve been looking forward to because of the patriotism it brings to southern Utah.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Hatch said. ”I’m actually in pilot ground school through our Jr. ROTC program, and I have a great respect for these pilots and the things that they do.”
The Blue Angels show will be part of the Thunder Over Utah show, which takes place July 25 through July 27.
For more information, visit the show’s website.