Blue Angels to roar over Kaneohe Bay
By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer
By William Cole
Organizers of "Blues on the Bay" are promising a bigger and better air show next month with the centerpiece Navy Blue Angels flying their trademark wingtip-to-wingtip loops and rolls over the Kane'ohe Bay Marine Corps base.
Punctuating that ballet will be the 50-foot, 700-mph "sneak pass" by one of the F/A-18 Hornet fighters.
About 105,000 spectators are expected for the two air shows over the weekend of Oct. 13-14 — 25,000 more than when the Blue Angels last performed in Hawai'i three years ago.
"If you were at the last show, I'd say we have a lot more in store for you this time," said Peter O'Hare, director of the air show.
In addition to the jets, the show will feature static aircraft, the Navy Leap Frogs and Army Golden Knights parachute teams, a slew of aerobatic pilots, and even an aerobatic helicopter, the Red Bull BO-105.
All except the food and some special seating is free.
"This is community outreach, (and) the reason why we are doing this is there is a certain cost associated with having an airfield in your backyard. We know that," O'Hare said. "One of the things we can do is bring all of the best acts here and have an open house and extend that invitation to the folks here, and hopefully, they can have some fun."
For fans of fast jets, this year is double the fun. The Air Force Thunderbirds performed earlier this month over Waikiki to a lot of "oohs" and a few boos for screaming over East Honolulu high-rises at practically rooftop level.
As with the Thunderbirds, one of the main purposes of the Blue Angels is to aid recruiting, and Defense Department policy states that the aerial demonstration teams can't fly within 150 miles of each other because doing so would affect the other's recruiting efforts.
The Thunderbirds and Blue Angels are allowed to perform with the Army's Golden Knights or Navy Leap Frogs parachute teams, however.
The Blue Angels have 12 jets: 10 single-seat F/A-18 A models, and a pair of two-seat F/A-18 B models. The basic acquisition price of a Hornet is $21 million, and the jets can be made combat ready in 72 hours.
In April, a pilot performing in one of his first shows with the team was killed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina in the final maneuver.
Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Davis' jet failed to join five others in a delta formation and he crashed in a neighborhood, injuring eight people. But deadly crashes are relatively rare, and the last one before Davis was in 1999.
A car show, carnival rides and other activities will be offered from 9 a.m. on at Kane'ohe Bay, and officials said there will be flying from about 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. The lineup includes two of the top women aerobatic performers, Patty Wagstaff and Jill Long, an Air Force reserve officer who recently came back from the Middle East and has flown about 50 combat missions, O'Hare said.
The Naval Air Museum Barbers Point will have A-4E Skyhawk, UH-1 "Huey" and UH-3H Sea King helicopters on display, and ground equipment such as a Vietnam expeditionary flight line display, according to the Marine Corps base.
A C-17 Globemaster III cargo carrier, the only Super DC-3 still in commercial service (the aircraft belongs to Kamaka Air on O'ahu), and a 1962 Piper Aztec flown by the CIA in Vietnam also will be on display.
O'Hare said the six-seat Aztec was flown out of Vietnam during the fall of Saigon by a Vietnamese national who piled 12 family members inside and flew the plane to Thailand, where it remained for 22 years.
"Lot of stories behind all of these planes," O'Hare said.
Some lessons learned from the last Blue Angels show were the need for more food and better parking arrangements.
"We're going to make sure that we've got lots of food, so we've got vendors coming in," O'Hare said.
Admission to Blues on the Bay is free, but grandstand, box seats and chalet seating will be available for purchase. Parking is free on the base and the air show also plans on having remote parking at the Pacific Aviation Museum - Pearl Harbor on Ford Island. Air-conditioned buses will run to and from the air show, O'Hare said.
The museum will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. for visitors wanting to have breakfast or dinner there and is offering an air show special for Oct. 13-14.
The normal admission of $14 adult and $7 child will be reduced to $8 and $4. The price includes round trip transportation between the museum and the air show at Kane'ohe Bay.
The Ford Island gate will be opened for general admission parking at the museum. Visitors not visiting the Museum, but wishing to use the museum parking and shuttle to the air show can do so for $4 per person.
For more information, go to www.bluesonthebay.org.
Reach William Cole at email@example.com.