Blue Angels to return to Annapolis skies

STELIOS VARIAS/Reuters - Members of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform during the Andrews Air Show at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, in this May 19, 2012, file photo.

For the first time since 2010, it appears that the Blue Angels will be back in full formation above graduation ceremonies at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis this spring.

The U.S. Navy announced funding Monday for the “full” schedule of its Flight Demonstration Squadron — better known as the Blue Angels — in fiscal 2014, after federal budget cuts known as sequestration grounded the jet fighter team’s operations this year.

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A Blue Angels spokesman confirmed Tuesday that the team is planning to perform at all shows listed on its 2014 schedule.

The schedule includes air shows in Annapolis on May 21 and May 23 — which is commissioning week and graduation — and in Baltimore from Sept. 13 to 14, which is the “Star-Spangled Spectacular” commemoration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

“We’re happy to be on the schedule,” said Cmdr. John Schofield, an academy spokesman. “It’s an event that means a lot to the mids and the parents, and to the Annapolis community as a whole.”

The Blue Angels have performed for graduates at the Academy almost every year since 1954, but haven’t done a full performance since 2010.

In 2011, they were retooling after a dangerous maneuver nearly went wrong at an air show. In 2012, they did a flyover but not a full performance, because the graduation date had changed and they had a scheduling conflict.

In 2013, sequestration forced the Navy to cancel 2,800 events across the country, including the Blue Angels performances, officials said.

On Monday, Rear Adm. John Kirby, a Navy spokesman, wrote on the Navy’s official blog that the fiscal 2014 budget includes enough community outreach funding to cover the costs of the Blue Angels’ schedule and other Navy events.

“For us, this means that, while we won’t return to our pre-sequester level of outreach activity, we will be able to execute our key programs in a manner that ensures Americans outside of fleet concentration areas have the opportunity to see and connect with their Navy,” he wrote.

- The Baltimore Sun

 
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