By Jeff Sovelove
At Thursday’s preview of this weekend’s New York Air Show, we met Lt. Lance Benson of the US Navy’s Blue Angels.
He’s the pilot of Blue Angel #4, a two-seat version of the F/A-18A.
Benson, 33, explained that pilots rotate out about every two years, with the enlisted personnel rotating about every three- to four years. This keeps everyone fresh, and averts complacency.
“It takes about 1200 – 1250 hours in the Super Hornet to qualify to apply for the team,” said the McPherson, KS, native, who joined the Navy in 2006.
Slideshow photos by Jeff Sovelove
The planes flown by the team are 30- to 35 years old. The Navy expects to replace them with Super Hornets about 2021 or after.
“My absolute favorite thing about being on the team is the camaraderie,” said Benson, who became a Blue Angel in September 2015. “Everyone here wants to be here and they’re the best at what they do.”
We also visited with pilots of the C-17 Globemaster III demonstration team. They’re the only Air National Guard C-17 demo team on the east coast, and do three or four shows a year.
The C-17 is the second biggest cargo plane in US service, and is capable of carrying an M1 Abrams tank, armored vehicles, or a mobile hospital unit. It can deploy on flights as long as 24 hours if needed.
The New York Air Show is scheduled for Stewart International Airport, near Newburgh, NY, on July 1-2, 2017. Tickets are $22.50 for adults and $11.25 for children aged 6-12.