Reporting Jeff Ray
FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – If you saw a Blue Angel jet in the skies above Fort Worth this afternoon don’ t expect a show just yet. But it’s coming. Tom Harris is the President at Alliance Airport. Every October they host the premier air show in the area. This year the Blue Angels are the head liners. “When the blue angels preform it’s something special” says Harris.
After a three year hiatus the Blue Angels return to the show. Two pilots flew their specially marked F-18 into Alliance just after lunch. The two will visit all 33 air show sites over the next month to prep for the 50 person team that arrives with the seven pilots.
If you have even seen one of the 45-minute presentation the Blue Angels put on it is a sometimes frightening demonstration of precision but this doesn’t mean they’re perfect.
Mike Cheng is one of the three new pilots that are rotated into the performance team every year “It may look great for everyone else but deep inside we know what we did well and what we didn’t do well and there is no way we will fly a perfect demo but we’ll always strive for that.”
The Blue Angel team is currently in the middle of their training season. It takes a lot of practice to get this good. They’ll go through the routine over 100 times before the Air Show season starts in March. “We talk a lot about how we fly as close as 18″ but that doesn’t just happen. That’s a part of the 120 minimum flights that we do,” said Cheng.
And in here is the lesson for all of us ‘non-jet fighter pilots’ for the New Year – and our jobs. It takes lots of practice to get to a top-tier level. Then it takes constant striving for a perfect performance to maintain it. If you find your work a little scary, it’s the routine of that work that can handle those nerves. As Cheng told us, “By the time we put on a demonstration there really isn’t a lot of nerves that our guys go through, they fall back on the repetition the muscle memory they have been doing.” Preparation beats back fear almost every time, even at 700 miles per hour only 50 feet off the ground.
The Alliance Air Show is in October. Admission is free, you pay for the parking. All proceeds go to over 30 different charities across the Fort Worth area.
In case you were thinking this, the Blue Angels are NOT planning a fly over for tomorrow night’s Cotton Bowl at Cowboy Stadium. The two pilots will head tomorrow morning for their training facility at El Centro, California. The roof of the stadium is going to be closed anyway.
Jeff Ray is the Science and Environmental Reporter for CBS11.
You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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