Navy Blue Angels visit ahead of next June’s 50th anniversary Dayton Air Show

Navy precision aerobatics team will headline 50th Dayton Air Show in June



Members of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels visited Dayton Tuesday to prepare for the 50th anniversary CenterPoint Energy Dayton Air Show.

The “Blues” have been performing above the Dayton area since at least the early 1950s, well before the first incarnation of the current air show. When the two-seat Blue Angel #7 F/A-18 Super Hornet circled and landed Tuesday, that tradition was continued.

Every air show begins on the ground, said Navy Lt. Commander Brian Vaught, the team’s events coordinator.

“We’re kind of the advance party,” Vaught said.

The next air show takes flight June 22 and 23 at Dayton International. When it does, the Navy’s precision flying team will show up with close to 70 sailors and Marines, and likely six other FA-18s, as well as “Fat Albert,” the team’s C-130 cargo plane. (Though the Blues have 11 F/A-18s, usually six or seven are used in demonstrations.)

The work ahead includes getting the lay of the land in Dayton — checking out the airfield diagram, examining Federal Aviation Administration requirements, taking care of safety-oriented details. Every air show imposes different geography, terrain and metrics.

“Really, the planning starts now for a show that’s six months away,” Vaught said.

The Dayton Air Show is nationally respected, one of the few events that can reliably showcase some of the military’s best pilots — the Air Force Thunderbirds one year as event headliners, then the Blue Angels the next year.

This year, it’s the Navy’s turn. (Department of Defense regulations do not typically permit the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds to fly together without special permission.)

One purpose of the shows, for both the Navy and the Air Force, is as a recruiting tool. You can ask Blue Angels pilot Lt. Connor O’Donnell how effective they are in that regard.

“I grew up in Maine,” O’Donnell said Tuesday. “They (the Blue Angels) came to Brunswick in 2003. I still remember that show. It started it all for me.”

Aviation services company Wright Brothers Aero Inc. began producing the Dayton show two years ago. Kevin Franklin, the show’s executive director, acknowledged that some surprises are hoped for in this 50th anniversary show, but he could not offer details.

“Hopefully, after the first of the year, we’ll know something,” Franklin said.

Scott Buchanan, chairman of the board of the United States Air & Trade Show, said the show continues to be blessed with cooperative communities, the support of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and one of the largest groups of sponsors in the nation.

Without them and thousands of volunteers, these shows do not happen, Buchanan said.

The past two years have seen record attendance. Last July’s show drew about 85,000 attendees over the weekend, surpassing the 2022 record attendance mark of about 83,000.

“This year won’t be any different,” Buchanan said. “We have a huge show planned.”

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