VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — In years past, there've been hurricanes, there was COVID-19, there was even 9/11--all of which hampered the Naval Air Station Oceana Air Show.
But this year, the weather appears to be perfect, and all systems are go.
The stars of the show are the U.S. Navy's Flight Demonstration Team the Blue Angels, which, since 1946, have been thrilling audiences all over the country. They're back for more this year.
"The single biggest takeaway, when they see this team, they think about the rest of the Navy and Marine Corps. That's who we represent," said Cmdr. Alex Armatas, Blue Angels Commanding Officer.
Several team members are from Hampton Roads, so this weekend is true homecoming for them.
"Growing up in Williamsburg always knew about the Oceana Air Show. I've been to it a few times," said Lt. Philippe Warren, Blue Angels Flight Surgeon.
"It's really rewarding to see the crowd and especially, coming home," said Aviation Mechanic First Class Samuel Smith, Blue Angels Maintainer.
"All of our friends, a lot of family are here, so it makes it really special to be back here," said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Kapuschanski, Blue Angels Pilot.
The theme for this year's show is "50 Years of Women in Naval Aviation."
It's especially appropriate, since this year's Blue Angels team for the first time includes a woman, Lt. Cmdr. Amanda Lee.
Retired Captain Mary Louise Griffin in 1972 was among the first group of eight women selected to be naval aviators.
"It is wonderful to see young women have the opportunities they do and working together with the young men seamlessly. It wasn't that way in the beginning," she said.
The air show is free and open to the public. Gates open on Saturday and Sunday at 8 a.m. Flying starts at 10 a.m. The Blue Angels take off at 3 p.m.
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