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The Blue Angels Wing It in Much Anticipated Return to Smyrna Airfield

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Saturday, June 10, 2023 marked the start of the Great Tennessee Air Show in Smyrna, Tennessee. The two-day event featured the return of the elite United States Navy's Blue Angles who last flew the skies over Rutherford County in 2019. This year the team would have to make adjustments on the fly in order to keep their precise production flying high.

The Blue Angels returned to the skies over Smyrna in 2023.

The goal of the Blue Angels is to inspire a culture of excellence and service to country. Their pilots from the Navy and Marine Corps perform awe-inspiring air demonstrations across the country to educate and entertain the general public. The Blue Angles were founded in 1946, by Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Chester Nimitz, who formed a flight exhibition unit to raise interest in naval aviation and boost Navy morale.

Today, the Blue Angles are still commanding state-of-the-art planes and they are fearless ambassadors encouraging a new generation to join their ranks.

This fearless crew put on a fine show after overcoming technical difficulties.

In a day packed with daring feats the Blue Angles were the much-anticipated headliners. Excitement was building as the pilots took their places in the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornets, however there was a bit of delay before they raced down the runway and one of them would have to be replaced due to what we presume was a mechanical issue in the cockpit of plane #2. The quick substitution with the back-up jet #7 proved that they really are ready for anything.

The Blue Angles delivered a series of dangerous maneuvers involving high altitudes and high speeds along with a series of formidable formations such as one plane soaring through the atmosphere upside down alongside another. For us the most impressive feat was the Diamond 360 in which they fly within 18 inches of each other. However the Pass and Rolls were remarkable, too! So, despite having to wing it the Blue Angles completed their mission and the day with power and precision.

Things got a little upside-down for the Blue Angels on Saturday.

Before the Air Show, there was a lot to see, such as vintage and modern planes. Bounce houses, concession and souvenirs were also available. Military personnel from various branches were on site to answer questions and perhaps scout out recruits. The Navy had a virtual simulator for people to experience an assignment on the water. It was reported that Saturday was a complete sell out including general admission and VIP packages.

The plane named Fat Albert kicked off the event by releasing three jumpers who worked their way to the ground with flags and smoke. The Great Tennessee Air Show was a good mix of old and new planes. The story of aviation was touched upon during the day starting with a restored DC-3. It was the first plane in American Airlines' fleet. We learned that in the late 1930's, the company could not get enough paying customers to fly so the crafts were also used to transport mail. Period music was piped in adding to the tale.

Fat Albert buzzed the faster planes parked on the tarmac.

War planes from various eras took to the skies performing twist and turns. On a number of occasions, they came in low and slow for folks to take photos. The history lesson included a P-51 Mustang which is a long-range, single-seat fighter that was used during World War II and the Korean War. The Mustang did daring dives during it's demonstration. There was a shift to the modern era as the F-35 Lightning soared over Smyrna.

This jet integrates advanced stealth technology into a highly agile, supersonic aircraft that provides the pilot with unprecedented situational awareness and unmatched lethality and survivability. As the name implies it was fast as Lightning. All these exciting exhibitions of skill and speed culminated with the Blue Angles who were the last to perform on Saturday.

A legacy flight put the past and present on display.

The Great Tennessee Air Show in Smyrna continues to be a popular event here in Mid-Tenn. It was a great opportunity to learn some aviation history and see different types of planes presenting bold maneuvers.

Each performance provides the American public with an opportunity to see the incredible capabilities of service members and meet them. Plus, it does not get any better than the Blue Angels so when they come to your town aim to check it out!

We can't make it more plain - the Great Tennessee Air Show is always a good time.

Related Links: For more information on the BLUE ANGELS and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Great Tennessee Air Show | Blue Angels | The U.S.A.F. Thunderbirds Take to the Skies Over Smyrna | The Blue Angels Fly High On a Wing and a Prayer in Smyrna | The Great Tennessee Air Show Flies On for Fallen Angel


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