The United States Navy announced today that the Blue Angels, its touring squadron of stunt pilots, will be operating along its full tour schedule this year, after missing out on the 2013 season from federal budget cuts due to sequestration.
According to Rear Admiral John Kirby on the Navy's official blog, the reduction in funding in 2013 caused the Navy to cancel approximately 2,800 community outreach events. This year, he wrote:
we will be able to provide Americans around our nation with special events to explain and show what their Navy does. These events include full schedules for Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron (Blue Angels) and Parachute Teams (Leap Frogs); five Fleet Weeks; six Navy Weeks; Navy and regional band performances; and 10 port visits to U.S. cities.
Regarding the news that the team would be performing a full tour schedule, Commander Thomas Frosch, the team's lead pilot, told the Pensacola News Journal that, "I think everybody was just excited to finally hear it. It's just been a long six months … It's a great feeling, that's all I can tell you." While grounded, the group performed other community outreach.
One of the most welcome stops on the tour—which runs from March 16 to November 2, 2014—is the U.S. Naval Academy's commissioning and graduation week in Annapolis, Maryland at the end of May. The Blue Angels have performed during the occasion since 1954, but their last full performance was in 2010. In 2011, the squad underwent changes after their CO was relieved of command for flying too low, and in 2012 they only performed a flyover.