US Navy Blue Angels Prepare to Soar Again

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Safety is the first concern of any aviation team. By definition, high-performance jets are demanding and unforgiving. Many of the accidents are caused by the pilot's sudden loss of vision or consciousness. This happens because of G-forces on the body when they perform steep, fast turns.

"Unfortunately there have been guys in the past who have passed out," Lt. Commander Barton said. "It's fatal if it happens to you. You can't recover. You are so close to the ground so that's obviously why we take it as seriously as we do."

Lt. Commander Barton is the newest Blue Angels formation pilot. Core strength training is one of the main ways to avoid accidents that can happen in the air, he said.

"We've all had times where we've let that vision curtain close a little further than we'd like to," he said. "You'll start to see your vision start to go away and you need to have the core strength to be able to squeeze that blood back into your head, kind of like a toothpaste tube."

The pressure is on for this season's pilots after their season was canceled last year due to budget cuts. Some may see the Blue Angels performances as gaudy, an unnecessary show of American military might and a waste of money, but maybe those critics haven't see the Blue Angels soar.

"You won't find six other guys that are more excited about flying this year than we are," Lt. Commander Hiltz said. "You know it is really important for us to get back there to connect with the American public."

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