PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. (WALA) -The Blue Angels are getting back in the skies over Pensacola Beach.
For nearly 70 years, the Blues have performed their action-packed routines across the country. The story begins at the end of World War II, when the Navy wanted to peak the public’s interest in naval aviation.
“It was really to generate public support for the Navy and Navy aviation and expose the public to what naval aviation could do and the byproduct of that was really to influence how much funding the navy got going forward,” historian Hill Goodspeed says.
The Blue Angels took to the skies for the first time in 1946 in Jacksonville, Florida. At the time, some Americans were familiar with aerial shows.
“There is a long tradition in the united states dating back to World War I, when there was a group of individuals called barnstormers that would fly from town to town and to preform aerial exhibitions,” Goodspeed says.
The Blue Angels brought something very different to the skies thanks to their skills learned during World War II.
“They were a formalized group and they flew unique formations,” Goodspeed says. “It certainly captivated the American public.”
That’s what makes the Blue Angels so unique. They are Naval aviators with a passion for our country, and it shows in every high-speed twist and turn. It’s a thrill you have to see to believe.
Goodspeed says, “It’s an amazing experiment to behold to see one of those air shows it really makes you step away from it feeling great about the country in which we live.”
The Blues have faced several obstacles over the years. In 2013, the squadron was grounded due to federal budget cuts. There was even a time when the precision flying squadron had to be disbanded.
“There was some unique times with the Blue Angels one of which was during the Korean War,” according to Goodspeed. “They actually disbanded the squadron for a year and the pilots who were members of the Blue Angels were assigned to an active squadron and they went over to fight in the Korean War.”
An armistice agreement to end fighting in the Korean War was signed in 1953. The Blues have been based at NAS Pensacola since 1954.