During their “winter visit” Monday morning, members of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels Demonstration Team said they were excited to fly in the 2021 Owensboro Air Show, bringing with them a pair of new aircrafts to celebrate their 75th season.
“We’re very excited to come out to Owensboro — we can’t wait,” said Events Coordinator Lt. Katlin Forster. “I just joined the squadron in September and I’m having so much fun with our winter visits, and I’m looking forward to touring Owensboro.”
The Blue Angels will incorporate the C-130J Super Hercules transport plane and F/A-18E Super Hornet tactical fighter jet during the event.
“It’s great to have the Blue Angels back in our community,” said Mayor Tom Watson. “We’re really excited to see the new Super Hornet jets.”
Forster joined Lt. Julius Bratton as they flew their jets over the Owensboro area to get a visual layout of the land and to test out their jets before returning to the community in August.
A native of Tennessee, Bratton said it was “an honor” to be making an appearance in Owensboro.
“I live right across the border … so pretty much, Kentucky and Tennessee are in the same hometown area for me, so it’s a real treat,” Bratton said. “We are honored to be here as a two-person advanced party to make sure that when the team shows up next August, they can hit the ground running.”
After the COVID-19 pandemic caused the Blue Angels to scrap their 2020 season in its entirety, Bratton said he was hoping for as “normal a show season as possible next year.”
Forster, Bratton and a team of Blue Angels pilots held a meeting after landing their jets to discuss the ins and outs of next year’s air show in Owensboro. Bratton said the meeting would serve as a “pre-visit” to get familiar with the geography and address any potential concerns before pilots take to the air this summer.
“Having been here in the past, it definitely helps, but a team turns over 50% of its personnel every year,” Bratton said. “So coming here now with the people that will be on the team in August allows us to have eyes on. The previous team has seen it, but this will be our first time seeing it. So we could use their [expertise] from the past to not repeat any mistakes.”
The Blue Angels were last in Owensboro for the 2018 air show, which drew an estimated 70,000 people. They did not return for the 2019 Owensboro Air Show, which did not have a major jet team performance.
No air show was scheduled for 2020, as the City of Owensboro instead opted to host a Hydrofair. However, that event was postponed due to the pandemic.