The U.S. Navy Blue Angels, rock stars of the air show industry, roared into Rome Thursday morning in advance of the Wings over North Georgia air show at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport this Saturday and Sunday weekend.
The unit has a decidedly Peach State flavor this year.
Cmdr. Frank Weisser USN, a native of Atlanta, pilots Blue Angel Five, the lead solo; and Lt. Tyler Davies USN of Kennesaw, pilots Blue Angel Six, the other solo performer.
Maj. Mark Montgomery of Cartersville, USMC, pilots the C-130 ‘Fat Albert’ airlift craft; however, it will not be in Rome this year, having been grounded as part of the investigation into the crash of a similar aircraft that took the lives of 16 Marines in Mississippi in July.
Davies said Thursday he has been looking forward to the Rome show and his chance to fly before home folks since the WONG show was added to their schedule more than a year ago. “I’m super-excited. I’m going to talk at my old high school Friday morning,” said Davies, a graduate of North Cobb High. “I’m going to see my old neighborhood and maybe some old friends. I hope I can put a pause on the clock and make time stop for just a minute so I can enjoy being back in Georgia.
Davies, who said he always knew he wanted to be a pilot, has been on active duty for 17 years and has seen duty all around the globe except for the Arctic Circle.
“We actually get qualified to do a certain show so we’re not allowed to change the show throughout the year unless we bring in the FAA to recertify us,” Davies said. He said Blue Angels 1-4 showcase the precision flight capability of the aircraft, flying upwards at 18 inches apart in formation. As a soloist Davies said, “We do all the crazy stuff, we try to point our noses directly at each other and try to hit each other on a maneuver by maneuver basis. A lot of the stuff I do is max performance pulls showcasing the maximum capability of the aircraft.”
The Blue Angels support squad includes four other Georgians, including AD1 Shane Miller from Woodbine, AM2 Demaude Prescott from Atlanta, AM1 Daniel Yater from Dacula and AM2 Michael McDuffie from Blackshear.