PENSACOLA, Fla. -- Beach-goers and surfers along Pensacola Beach will pause on Saturday as the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels take to the skies over the coral waters to perform their homecoming air show.
The Navy's elite flight demonstration squadron's six Blue and Gold F/A-18C Hornets will perform tight formation maneuvers during a forty minute show on Saturday.
"The U.S. Navy Blue Angels are a huge economic impact for our area," Mrs. Robbie Schrock, Director of Administration with Santa Rosa Island Authority, stated on Wednesday. "They have truly been missed and we are beyond thrilled to have them back flying over the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and Pensacola Beach!"
The Blues front office explains that the aerodynamic box is from the beach line and out over the waters, and that swimmers will need to exit the Gulf waters prior to the start of the performances.
A region just east of the great pier will serve as the air show's midpoint for the pilots.
Several civilian aerobatic acts from the deep south, including Skip Stewart, Gary Ward and Team Aerodynamix, will precede the Blues beginning at 12:00 p.m. over the same flight box.
Stewart's modified Pitts bi-plane named Promytheus will streak black and red across the summer sky as he pushes his aircraft up to 400 horse power performing loops and high speed passes.
Ward's green and purple MX2 monoplane will perform several loops, climbs and dives during the show.
As the crowd glances toward the sky's horizon, nearly one dozen aircraft will fast approach over the waters as Aerodynamix begins their flight demo.
Eleven aircraft, each one with a different paint scheme, will thrill the spectators in a dizzying array of aerobatic stunts.
Mrs. Schrock suggests to arrive on the beach early on Saturday, "We are expecting some of the largest crowds we have ever seen on Pensacola Beach."
Notably absent from the air show will be the Blues Angels C-130 transport known as Fat Albert, a crowd favorite.
"Fat Albert is currently down for maintenance due to a recent bird strike and will not be performing in the Pensacola Beach Air Show," Blue Angels spokesperson LTJG Amber Daniel reported on Monday.
The bird strike occurred on July 1 during a practice flight by the hulking aircraft, and caused enough damage to require several weeks of maintenance.
The Navy's aerobatic team will also perform two practice flights on Thursday and Friday in preparation for Saturday's big show. Both flights are also planned for 2:00 p.m.
Air show organizers stated that if Saturday is rained out, the performers will fly on Sunday weather permitting.
The Pensacola Trolly will increase it's free service from the mainland over to the beach from 7:00 a.m. to dark on Friday and Saturday.
(Charles Atkeison reports on aerospace, science and technology. Follow his updates via Twitter @AbsolutSpaceGuy.)