Blue Angel to soar in hometown sky - News, Weather & Sports

Blue Angel to soar in hometown sky

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Lt. Commander John Hiltz Lt. Commander John Hiltz
This is Hiltz's last season with the team, which practices in Pensacola, Florida. This is Hiltz's last season with the team, which practices in Pensacola, Florida.
The Blue Angels The Blue Angels

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Blue Angels are returning to the skies over Kentuckiana this year for Thunder Over Louisville. For one of the pilots it's especially meaningful because he was born and raised in Kentucky. 

The performances by the elite aerobatic team for the United States Navy have inspired countless children over the years, including a little boy from Kentucky about 30 years ago.

Today, that little boy is one of the six pilots for the Blue Angels.

"It's definitely been something that's been in the back of my mind.  I never thought it would be a reality until the opportunity presented itself," said Lt. Commander John Hiltz.    

Hiltz grew up in Ft. Mitchell, the oldest of three boys. He joined the United States Navy and attended the University of Notre Dame, then in 2012 his childhood dream became a reality.

He said seeing his name and number of his jet is very special. "I remember the first moment when you come out here and see your name and number on a jet. It's overwhelming. You can't believe it's actually happening," Hiltz said.

When you are in the crowd during Thunder Over Louisville it's easy to determine which jet Lt. Commander Hiltz is flying. He's always in the number two jet and always the right wing. So when you look at this diamond formation he's always on the right side.

Because the maneuvers in the F/A-18 Hornets are so dangerous it used to be mandatory that the Blue Angels were single, that isn't the case today. Of the six, Lt. Commander Hiltz is the only one not married and four of the six have children.

But that doesn't mean someone isn't biting her nails. His Mother will be in the crowd during Thunder Over Louisville. 

"My brothers have said it's more fun to watch my Mother watching an air show then it is to watch the air show itself," Hiltz said.

The biggest risk for the Blue Angels is a sudden loss of consciousness in the air. When they are pulling g's, the force of the gravity on the body pulls blood from their head. It's in their conduct policy to strengthen their muscles by working out six days a week.

 "We start by squeezing our calves and our legs and our glutes and our abs trying to force that blood in the head," Hiltz said. "So the more you can force blood up in the head to keep in the head."

Something more difficult for Hiltz because of his 6'5'' height. That also makes him easier to spot out of the jets as well.

But being regarded as a pseudo celebrity doesn't last forever. The Blue Angels only serve two to three years with the squadron. This is Hiltz's last season with the team, which practices in Pensacola, Florida. He will return to operating off an aircraft carrier which is what he did before joining the team.

That makes performing in Thunder Over Louisville this year that much more special.

"To do one in my home state, my backyard with my family and friends watching will be extra special," said Hiltz.

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