Seizing summer with Seafair

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As a photographer in the aviation paradise that is Puget Sound, Seafair is one of the pinnacle events of the summer. If you love aviation and consider the sounds and sights of aviation an expression of American freedom, Seafair is the place to be.

I was honored to ride with the Blue Angels’ C-130T flown by the US Marine Corps. I was nervous for quite a while if I could ride “Fat Albert,” now nicknamed by a new generation of air show fans after the Blue Angels’ first female pilot Capt. Katie Higgins “Katie Bird.” What I admire most about Higgins is she accepted Maj. Dusty Cook’s prompt to volunteer to be the one to be the first female Blue Angels pilot. Sincerely hope their character and actions inspire other Americans to be braver and bolder.

On my flight, we took off with a pull upward about three times our body weight or 3G followed by a short photo flight over Seattle, then we lined up for the air show routine. Cook and his crew went low, pulled more G but with every pushover to level out it gave us about negative one G so one moment I am grunting and the next blood is rushing to my head. Meanwhile I am looking out the window and see our shadow and sometimes trees higher than the windows. Gives me a new tactile appreciation of the physical pressure NAS Whidbey Island aircrew have in performing their missions that one simply cannot receive flying a static simulator always at one times your body weight or 1G.

After landing, Cook made one special request of the gathered media: “The funny part is you all come here to talk to us but you got people who have just as great stories as well. They may be your neighbor, please so get out there and help spread their word, that’s all I’m here for.”  It was very thoughtful and motivational to me at least.

Whidbey Island has our own Blue Angel. Lt. Cmdr. Nate Barton, Blue Angel number four. I finally was honored to meet him and found him very down to earth and appreciative of my support of Field Carrier Landing Practice for the VAQ Wing he’s a part of. In a thoughtful conversation at the Seafair Gala with an EA-18G pilot, the three of us joked if I had to choose between OLF Coupeville and the Blue Angels… but all recommended the Blue Angels.

Finally, I want to give thanks to Melissa, Delaney, Ralph, Jeff and all the other great Seafair staff and volunteers who helped make a great experience for me. Special thanks to all the Blue Angels enlisted, who are the secret sauce to maintaining and administrating the world’s best air show team.

 

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