AutoMatters+: Blue Angels 2015 and “Jupiter Ascending”

U.S. flag atop Fat Albert
Powering up for takeoff.

Blue Angels 2015 Air Show Season

The Blue Angels is the flight demonstration squadron of the U.S. Navy. Its mission “is to showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach.”

Photographers capturing the thrills.

The Blue Angels travel the country performing in air shows. I have enjoyed their carefully choreographed, thrilling aerobatic flight demonstrations many times at San Diego’s Miramar Air Show (most recently covered in AutoMatters+ #353).

The home base of the Blue Angels is in Pensacola, Fla. However, as I learned from their Public Affairs Officer, each year their team deploys to El Centro for up to 10 weeks of intensive flight training. The El Centro location in Southern California’s Imperial Valley provides an ideal training ground from which to fly their squadron of modified Boeing F/A-18 Hornets. The team includes “Fat Albert,” their familiar Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules.

Strong acceleration.

The weather in the Imperial Valley this time of year is typically clear and free of winter storms or high winds. During this winter training period, the Blue Angels fly two or three times per day for a total of 120 training flights completed by their first air show. This year, that will be on March 14 at the Naval Air Facility El Centro Annual Air Show.

I often go on photo shoots with San Diego County’s Pacific Photographic Society. My interests in photography and the Blue Angels coincided on a sunny weekday in early February at a PPS-organized shoot (by prior arrangement) of the Blue Angels as they trained over and around Naval Air Facility El Centro for the 2015 show season.

Blue Angels in flight.

On this day, many of us stood high atop stacks of hay bales so that we could not only see the Blue Angels as they performed above us, but also on the ground as they took off from and landed on a nearby NAF El Centro runway. The sensation of enormous power that we felt as four Blue Angels took off side by side and passed over us was truly something wonderful to behold.

Precision aerial maneuver.

Individually and in various formations, the Blue Angels performed a succession of thrilling maneuvers. From a spectator’s point of view, perhaps the only thing missing from this training session was an announcer explaining what we were seeing. For that, we’d need to go see them perform at an actual air show.

Four-jet diamond formation.

In 2015, the Blue Angels’ ambitious schedule will take them across the United States from coast to coast, ending at the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show at NAS Pensacola on Nov. 6 and 7. In between, the Blue Angels will perform at San Diego’s MCAS Miramar Air Show on Oct. 3 and 4. Last year, in addition to seeing a Blue Angels performance during the daytime show on Saturday, I also enjoyed a completely different show (but not with the Blue Angels) on Saturday evening. The finale included a massive wall of fire and a spectacular fireworks show.

Painting the sky.

I’ve already made plans to return to NAF El Centro to see another Blue Angels training day, perhaps followed by two air shows.

Flying into position.

To learn more about the Blue Angels, their aircraft and the many locations of their event-filled 2015 season, visit their website at www.blueangels.navy.mil.

Review of “Jupiter Ascending”

“Jupiter Ascending” is an entertaining, complex, science fiction fairy tale. On one level, it is a futuristic Cinderella story.

'Jupiter Ascending'

Its Cinderella character is Jupiter Jones, convincingly portrayed by Mila Kunis. We follow her life-and-death struggles that begin with her difficult life on Earth, where she eventually finds work as a humble immigrant maid cleaning toilets; to her unlikely and perilous life as a long-lost royal in the far-off reaches of outer space — and then back to Earth again. The special effects, presented in a thankfully subtle application of IMAX 3D, are state of the art. I especially enjoyed the anti-gravity boots and vehicles used in the fight scenes.

Evil, deceptive villains and a genetically engineered, likable, highly skilled ex-military hero named Caine (Channing Tatum) keep this action adventure moving right along.

In telling its tale, “Jupiter Ascending” raises intriguing philosophical questions: Are we alone? Are we from Earth? Are we unique individuals? Is there a fountain of youth, and if so, at what cost?

“Jupiter Ascending” is in theaters now.

As always, please write to AutoMatters@gmail.com with your comments and suggestions.

Preparing to land.

Copyright © 2015 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters+ #371


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