Blue Angels members fly in for air show meeting

Lt. Cmdr. Michael Cheng, formerly the deputy air operations officer at Naval Base Ventura County and now No. 8 on the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron, recently returned to the base for an air show planning meeting. The Blue Angels will perform at the air show Sept. 28 and 29.

Photo by Andrea Howry / Lighthouse

Lt. Cmdr. Michael Cheng, formerly the deputy air operations officer at Naval Base Ventura County and now No. 8 on the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron, recently returned to the base for an air show planning meeting. The Blue Angels will perform at the air show Sept. 28 and 29.

The Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, will be the featured act at this year’s air show, scheduled for Sept. 28 and 29 at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) Point Mugu.

One of the newest members of the team, and its first Chinese-American, is Lt. Cmdr. Michael Cheng, whose previous assignment was deputy air operations officer at NBVC.

Cheng returned to the base last month, flying in a blue and gold F/A-18 Hornet piloted by Lt. Ryan Chamberlain. The side of the jet was emblazoned with their names.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be back,” said Cheng, who reported to the squadron Sept. 10 and officially became Blue Angel No. 8, the events coordinator, after about two months of training.

Dressed in the snappy blue flight suit, also bearing his name, Cheng laughed about being Chamberlain’s personal tour guide, pointing out the Camarillo Airport and the strawberry fields as they flew in to Point Mugu.

“They’re really good strawberries,” he told his pilot.

As the events coordinator, Cheng visits every air show site prior to performance dates. In 2013, the Blue Angels will give full performances at 33 sites, the first one being March 13 in El Centro, the last being Nov. 2 in Pensacola, Fla., their home base.

Cheng and Chamberlain flew in from San Francisco, where they’ll perform Oct. 12 and 13, and went on to El Centro after their air show meeting in Point Mugu.

“At each meeting, we discuss the logistics of putting together a safe air show,” Cheng explained. “We get all the details ironed out.”

The Blue Angels have not performed at the base since 1999. They were scheduled for the 2005 air show but could not fly because of fog.

“It’s very exciting for me personally to be coming back here,” Cheng said. “It’s been quite some time since the Blue Angels have been able to perform here, so this is exciting.”

The squadron is the brainchild of Adm. Chester Nimitz, who, as chief of naval operations, decided in 1946 that the Navy needed a flight exhibition team to raise the public’s interest in naval aviation and to boost Navy morale.

Today, six F/A-18 Hornets perform in each show, flying as close as 18 inches to one another during some maneuvers. An estimated 11 million spectators see the squadron each year at air shows, and another 50,000 visit with the Blue Angels during hospital and school visits.

Most recently, the Blue Angels flew their support aircraft, a C-130 Hercules nicknamed “Fat Albert,” into Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Wrightstown, N.J., to deliver toys to Superstorm Sandy victims.

© 2013 Ventura County Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Commanding Officer

CAPT. LARRY VASQUEZ

Chief Staff Officer

CAPT. SCOTT LOESCHKE

Lighthouse Editor

ANDREA HOWRY, 805-989-5281

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KIMBERLY GEARHART
Ventura County Star - 805-437-0000

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MARGIE COCHRANE, Ventura County Star

Niche Publications

JOHN GARCIA, 805-437-0365

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