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'We're excited to be here!'- The Blue Angels are back at Pax

NAS Patuxent River, MD- The Navy’s Blue Angels have been buzzing around Lexington Park as they fine tune their moves ahead of this weekend’s Pax River Air Expo.

Before the powerful jets started roaring through the air, TheBayNet.com was there to welcome the elite team of pilots and maintainers to NAS Patuxent River—the team’s first visit to the base in seven years. “It’s going to be wonderful airshow and we’re excited to be here and excited to fly,” said Blue Angels Commanding Officer Cmdr. Eric Doyle, who pilots Blue Angel 1.

“It’s a great venue to fly, the air is really smooth here. There will be a lot of great performers here so come early. There’s a lot to see beyond the Blue Angels,” Doyle said of the team’s first performance at Pax River since 2011.

NAS Patuxent River Commanding Officer Capt. Jason Hammond said he’s thrilled the Blue Angles are here for the 75th anniversary of the base. “This is an absolutely unique opportunity for the community,” Hammond explained. “First, you can see the precision of Naval Air Station Patuxent River. It takes a lot of people working together and you’ll see all of that hard work on display this weekend. Second, this is your opportunity to see the premiere flying demonstration team in the world.”

Doyle took command of the Blue Angels in November. He said being selected to lead the Blue Angels team was a lifelong dream. “I came to airshows as a kid and I was on the other side and for it to come full circle and wear this blue suit and fly these amazing airplanes is very special. Now I have the chance to give back to the kids like me.”

Doyle has served 22 years in the Navy. He has an impressive career piloting the F/A-18s. A graduate of Texas A&M, Doyle went to Officer Candidate School in Pensacola and got in the cockpit of the F/A-18s early. He is also a graduate of the Navy’s elite TOP GUN fighter weapons school in Miramar, CA. “I couldn’t imagine anything more exciting than flying a jet.”

While Doyle has never been stationed at Pax River, he calls it a center of excellence for naval aviation. “All of the great aircraft that live here, all of the testing that takes place, and the history of aviation, that’s why it’s great for us to be here.”

The Blue Angels continue to fly F/A-18 Hornets over the Navy’s newer F/A-18 Super Hornets. “The fleet is the priority,” Doyle explained. “The fleet needs the best and most advanced fighters.” Doyle went on to say the F/A-18 Hornets have been the backbone of naval aviation for nearly 35 years.

Hammond said this weekend’s air expo gives the Navy a chance to give back to the community who supports them every day. “This is the greatest community relations I have seen in my 25 years of service in the Navy. We couldn’t do what we do without the citizens of St. Mary’s County and the entire local area.”

“I look at us as a window into the Navy-Marine Corps,” Doyle said. “It’s hard to see what goes on every day and we try to show the public what great work these sailors and Marines are doing.”

Hammond said the air expo is just a taste of the Navy and Marine Corps, “The precision of which they [Blue Angels] fly, the precision in which they do everything, that’s just indicative of the Navy-Marine Corps. They are the representatives of what we do.”

This weekend's performance at Pax River hits close to home for one member of the team. Petty Officer First Class Chris Enlow is from La Plata. He has served for 10 years in the Navy and is in his second year with the Blue Angels. Enlow handles the maintenance on the jets. 

"I'm happy to be home. My whole family will be here this weekend," Enlow said. "It's awesome and they get to see everything."

In addition to the awe-inspiring Blue Angels performance, the weekend will be packed with extremely talented aviators including Rob Holland, Patty Wagstaff, and the Warrior Flight Team. The Geico Skytypers were scheduled to perform but, sadly, the team canceled after Wednesday’s fatal crash involving one of their Vintage World War II aircraft on Long Island, NY. “Our hearts and our thoughts go out to the Geico Skytypers,” Hammond shared.

Hammond noted every aircraft in the Navy will also be on display. “It’s unique because we have Test Pilot School and every platform that exists in the Navy is already here.”

For Doyle, performing with the Blue Angels was a dream come true and he hopes he can inspire others to pursue their dreams. “Don’t take no for an answer. Whatever you want to do, do it. If you have a passion, that’s a gift, pursue that passion.”

Contact Joy Shrum at j.shrum@thebaynet.com

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