Blue Angels won't perform in 2012 Navy commissioning

Graduation ceremony change does not fit flight demonstration schedule

March 11, 2011|By Nicole Fuller, The Baltimore Sun

The Blue Angels — the flight demonstration squadron for the Navy and Marine Corp. that has for decades thrilled crowds during the Naval Academy's Commissioning Week festivities in Annapolis, will not perform over the capital city in 2012, officials said.

Traditionally, the Blue Angels have performed an hour-long routine, with its C-130 Hercules known as Fat Albert and F/A-18 Hornets wowing crowds in diamond formation and flying just 18 inches apart at times, over downtown Annapolis.

But Naval Academy officials decided to schedule its graduation ceremony next year on May 29 — a Tuesday — in order to avoid perilous traffic jams on the Friday leading to Memorial Day weekend. The date didn't work for the Blue Angels schedule, which is set more than a year ahead of time, according to Lt. Katie Kelly, a squadron spokeswoman.

The Blue Angels, however, will perform a simple fly-over during the graduation ceremony.

Annapolis officials said residents voiced "adamant support" for a Blue Angels performance, which has become a tradition for scores of Annapolitans who take to the streets to watch the show every year.

"We're very disappointed to not have the Blue Angels," said Phillip McGowan, a spokesman for the city of Annapolis. "Certainly, their presence will be missed."

The Angels, founded in 1946, perform about 70 shows in 35 cities annually, Kelly said. Instead of being in Annapolis, the group will be performing in New York for events celebrating New York City Fleet Week, the War of 1812 Commemoration and an air show at Jones Beach. Spokespeople for the city, the Blue Angels and the Naval Academy said they didn't expect the Blue Angels' absence to become an ongoing occurrence.

Despite their absence, the Blue Angels will perform nearby at Andrews Air Force Base on May 19 and 20, said Kelly, a 2004 Naval Academy graduate.

"If they're missing us in Annapolis, hopefully they'll drive down the road and come and see us," she said.

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

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