Saturday, April 21, 2012

Blue Angels (Not) Grounded

Today's Times-Picayune headline read: "All Eyes on the Skies."

Our eyes, along with those of some 50,000 others, were supposed to be looking skyward, admiring the precision of the choreographed aerial skills of The Blue Angels, the U. S. Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron.

However, instead of admiring the acrobatics of six F/A-18 Hornets performed against a brilliant blue back-ground, we were surveying the heavens in search of a patch of blue or a ray of sunshine.

And, unfor-tunately, the results of the survey conducted by officials at the National Weather Service resulted in a decision by squadron officials to call off the Blue Angels air shows on both Saturday and Sunday.

The predicted high winds gusting (forecasts of 40 mph) across Lake Pontchar-train were preventing the ability to stabilize the visual markers the pilots use while doing maneuvers. A sixty percent chance of rain and the low ceiling would also adversely affect the performance.

With speeds of 700 mph and distances between the F/A-18s as little as 18 inches, cancelling the air show made good sense.

But because of our RV Park's location near the designated air show area on Lake Pontchartrain, we were able to view some of the maneuvers performed during Thursday and Friday preparation exercises.

Even though we only caught glimpses of their routines on the approaches to the "show area," these brief exposures to the skills of these pilots were both stunning and moving.

We were indeed fortunate to have been home to see what was to become the only perfor-mance by the Blue Angels during their time in New Orleans.

These formations (right) and below featured some or all the F/A-18s flying upside down.

Given that the planning for the air show began more than a year ago, it had to be a disappoint-ment to New Orleans Police Department (traffic), EMS teams, University of New Orleans and Southern University of New Orleans officials,
who were geared up to handle traffic, welfare, and parking for 50,000 people expected to attend each of the two days.

The air show is part of the Navy Week celebration.

Other events during this week will be the focus of upcoming blogs.

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