An Interview with Two Blue Angels – at Tampa’s MacDill Airfest
Interview and most questions by Nicole Cloutier. Additional questions by Mike Colaner
On May 10th I had the pleasure of watching the Blue Angels arrive to Tampa before the MacDill Airfest. For this interview, I was assigned Blue Angel #4 Lt. Commander Nate Scott and Crewmaster Sgt. Anthony Black.
How long is your show season as a Blue Angel and what does a typical week look like for you?
We are gone 300 days a year. We are home Monday and Tuesday, Wednesdays are typically our home PR days, Thursday is our arrival to the show site and aerial surveillance. This is one of the most important parts called C&A (Circle and Arrival). Blue Angels 1-4 fly initially to identify and memorize visual checkpoints for show, one mile every 10 seconds, half a mile every 5 etc. all while flying at a 350 knots groundspeed. Then the solo pilots fly using those checkpoints and then the team reconvenes and we all fly together to practice.
What made you want to be a Blue Angel Pilot?
Top Gun! (laughter). When I was five years old I attended Fleet Week in my home state of CA. I met the then #7 pilot John Foley and had him autograph a photo. I carried that around with me forever. Believe it or not I had the chance to meet him again and thank him for inspiring me. It was pretty cool!
When do you think the US Navy will upgrade [the team] to the F/A-18 Super Hornet?
Soon! I think in the next 2-3 years as the avionics in the Legacy aren’t as up to date.
What do they do with the retired Blue Angel aircraft?
The retired aircraft are used for training or sadly they go to Davis-Monthan AFB. We put a TON of stress on these jets to show the full capabilities of the F/A-18 in all of our shows.
I was hoping to see Bert (Fat Albert KC-130T) perform this season but she’s still not flying. What’s the status?
Sgt. Anthony Black: Bert is still down for maintenance. We actually flew down on a TX Guard C-130 that dropped us off and left for another mission. They’ll come back and get us or we’ll fly on another loaned aircraft. We are using ground transportation as well. We sure miss Bert too, she’s a big part of the show.
Special thanks to MacDill AFB PA team for their hospitality. Lt. Allison Mills for setting up the interview. Lt. Commander Nate Scott, Sgt. Anthony Black and Petty Officer Jessica Gray of the 2018 US Navy Blue Angels Team for their time and service.
Editor’s note: as we go to press, Bert has already taken his first flight after the aforementioned maintenance interval.