Remainder of Blue Angels team lands at Cape Girardeau airport

Friday, June 18, 2010
The Blue Angels taxi in after landing at the Cape Girardeau Airport on Thursday. (Kristin Eberts)

Six U.S. Navy Blue Angels arrived at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport on Thursday in preparation for their first performance at the Cape Girardeau Regional Air Festival in 18 years.

"I grew up in a military family so I love fighter jets. Anytime I get to see them, I'm there," said Rob Stephens, sales and marketing director at Servpro who saw the Blue Angels at the Cape Girardeau Regional Air Festival in 1992.

"Ecstatic would be an understatement," said Mark Seesing, Blue Angel liaison, about having the flight team back at the air show.

Seven Blue Angels, one of which flew in Wednesday, will perform a one-hour show with a few new maneuvers for the audience Saturday and Sunday afternoon. The show will be split into three parts: a diamond formation demonstration, a demonstration of performance capabilities and other formation flights.

Julia Casper, assistant public affairs officer for the Blue Angels, said the pilots have been studying a map of the area for a couple of days and will be taking practice flights up until Saturday.

One safety step the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport has taken is to put down a 5,000-foot-long, 40-foot-wide plastic directional strip for the pilots.

"It's a mark for them to line up on while doing maneuvers," Seesing said.

The strip, first used in 1992, can be seen from 300 feet in the air and three miles away.

This weekend's event will be the first air show appearance for Lt. Ben Walborn, who has been with the Navy for nine years and came on board with the Blue Angels two years ago.

"Cape is a small town, and these towns are the coolest ones to come to," Walborn said,

Walborn said he was motivated to fly after seeing the Blue Angels perform when he was 9. He said the Blue Angels look forward to showing the American public what they do and what they're all about.

"This is great for the guys to promote the military," said Curtis Friesz, a crew member who works on the planes' ejection seats and air conditioning. Friesz, who joined the Blue Angels team this year, is in charge of fueling and daily servicing. He grew up in Keytesville in mid-Missouri and said he joined the Navy because he wanted to see the world and learn new trades.

"[The Navy] uses the Blue Angels as a marketing tool to get younger kids interested in the military, and I absolutely support that," Stephens said.

Besides the Blue Angels, the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team and the A-10 East Coast Demonstration Team will be perform at the festival. Stephens said he was excited about seeing those two flight teams, especially watching the A-10 combat mission demonstration.

Today the Blue Angels will do a meet and greet with the alumni of the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce leadership program at the Cape Girardeau Public Library at 7:40 a.m. and will have breakfast with Cape Girardeau and Jackson Rotary members at 8:30 a.m. at Sandy's Place at the airport.

Gates for the Cape Girardeau Regional Air Festival will open at 9 a.m. and flying will start at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport. For more information on the event, visit www.capeairfestival.com.

breutzel@semissourian.com

388-3654

Pertinent addresses:

860 Limbaugh Drive, Scott City, MO

711 N. Clark Ave., Cape Girardeau, MO

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