Blue Angels performance brings pilot, crew members home - News, Weather & Sports

Blue Angels performance brings pilot, crew members home to Kentucky

The Blue Angels The Blue Angels
Serena Stiff Serena Stiff
Michael Flemister Michael Flemister
Lt. Commander John Hiltz Lt. Commander John Hiltz

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Blue Angels are back in Louisville to perform in the 25th annual Thunder Over Louisville. The last time they performed their jaw dropping stunts over the Ohio River was in 2006.

Before they headed to Louisville a record 28,000 people head out to watch the Blue Angels first flight demonstration in a year at their base in Pensacola, Florida. Thanks to Washington's budget, the Blue Angels spent most of 2013 grounded. They only flew at two show sites. This year they are scheduled to appear at 35 show sites.

That's good news for the 130 members of the United States Navy who make up the Blue Angels. The six pilots in the F-A/18 Hornets may get most of the attention, but there are a lot of people who ensure every time in the air is a success.

One of those people is Serena Stiff, of Owensboro, Kentucky, who is the crew chief assigned to the fourth pilot.

"After last year we are just thrilled to be back. Coming to work every day you can just feel the anticipation with it," said Stiff. "And the Louisville show it was like the icing on top of the cake."

Michael Flemister, of Pleasure Ridge Park in Louisville, is also part of the Blue's. His job is to make sure the jets are maintained and everything is logged. Flemister said he can't wait to bring his son Trey behind the scenes during Thunder and teach him an important lesson, "We're here to inspire a culture of excellence. We want people to know they can achieve anything they put their mind to. You set a goal and you go after it."

The Blue Angels formed in 1946. There have only been 270 pilots and all of them have been men.

The pictures of all the prior teams line the walls of the Blue Angels office in Pensacola.

"Those eyes are staring at you as you walk down. So it really makes you realize how important upholding this special legacy is," said pilot Lt. Commander John Hiltz, of Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky.

Their maneuvers have little room for error. There can be no bad days.

"Repetition is the mother of all study and that's what we do," said Lt. Commander Hiltz.  "We are very repetitive and very precise about repetition we have."

Among those in the crowd in Pensacola was the Williams family from Louisville. They were excited to meet the pilot from their state and see the maneuvers.

"It looks like they are going to crash but they don't," said 11-year-old Wyatt Williams.

And now they say they are ready to see the Angels in their home state for what's being called the fireworks before the fireworks.

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