SMYRNA, Tenn. (WKRN) – After three years, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels returned to Middle Tennessee on Thursday.
The flight demonstration squadron arrived in Smyrna after flying over downtown Nashville, kicking off CMA fest and commemorating D-Day.
Smyrna resident Jason Sparks said he and his family had been awaiting their return.
“I’m looking forward to it. We saw them when we were driving, and we all got excited saying ‘Oh they’re back! They’re back!’ clapping and cheering.”
The squadron’s return to the Great Tennessee Air Show is the first since the tragic 2016 crash that killed Captain Jeff Kuss.
This year, the Commanding Officer of the Blue Angels, Captain Eric Doyle, said their focus was on performing well and safe. Doyle added that they are grateful to have the support of the Smyrna community.
“It’s been incredible not only for the Kus family but also for our team. And the support’s been quite incredible. You asked about coming back to Tennessee. It feels like coming home.”
When the Blue Angels pilots landed on Thursday, maintenance crews were already waiting — ready to keep the jets in perfect condition for practice runs. In the days leading up to the weekend’s Air Show, Smyrna residents will get an early look at the squadron’s stunts.
“We take off at the beginning of the show and do diamond maneuvers while the soloists do their maneuvers. And then the last third of the show we get the Delta together, so all six aircraft; and the delta formation is one of the most rewarding formations because we really showcase the teamwork of our six aircraft when we fly together,” said Capt. Doyle
Doyle said flying with the Blue Angels is a dream come true.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to do this job, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t look down at this blue flight suit and just feel thankful for what I get to do.”
The team’s return is emotion for Smyrna residents too.
“I get a little teary. I’m just kind of emotional, you know, I’m glad they’re getting up, showing us they can get out here and do it. I’ve got a lot of respect for them.” said Frank Barnes.