✈ The First Time I Felt Them

Blue Angel Takeoff
One does not merely "go see" the Blue Angels. It is an extrasensory experience of sight, sound and rumbling in your bones!! I had never experienced anything like the day we had at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola.

National Naval Aviation Museum
When we were planning our episode in Pensacola, and doing our research, this museum was one on my list, however, it's not fully open to the public just yet. It is available to military and retired military, and to be extra sure, one should check their website for access and schedule changes. However, we put it on the wish list to ask about at our next pre-production meeting. Well, as fate would have it, we checked the weather forecast for the week of filming, and a hurricane was approaching about that time, with an uncertain landfall location. Nonetheless, we were going to have weather, and filming outside activities would not be an option. This made our case for a day at the museum even stronger. We were in!

Capt Sterling Gilliam, USN (Ret)
We were greeted by the Director of the museum, CAPT Sterling Gilliam, USN (Ret.) and the day only got better from there. He is a wealth of knowledge, a pilot himself, with hundreds of missions and carrier landings, and he was more than gracious with sharing with us the stories behind every exhibit.

The Tour
At one point he says to us that the Blue Angels are practicing later for their homecoming performance, and would we like to attend? It's just out back of the museum, and since you've got the film crew with you, is it something you think you'd like to include? The crew is within ear shot of all of this . . . Kevin and I look at each other, look around at the crew, our photographer is an aviation enthusiast (he's a nut) and he's throwing us some serious eyeballs, and then we stumble all over each other's words with unintelligible responses. The answer is, yes!! We'd be honored, Sir.

The Blue Angels Show
I had never seen the Blue Angels. I never even imagined what it would be like. Standing outside with the formation taxiing down the runway, they're right in front of us, and then the rumble hits me . . . an enormous sense of pride, aw, and patriotism blew right through me. I am usually very vocal, I'm not shy, and not one to be at a loss for words, but for the entire practice, I was quiet and aw struck. All I could do was watch (with my mouth open), listen and feel. It was spectacular. By the end of the show I was exhausted. Hanging on their every move, squirming when they fly right at each other and turned with precision to barely miss one another, cheering after each maneuver, phew . . . I was exhausted. Ha!

The Greatest Show in the Air
A day I will never forget. An experience I hope you enjoy in this week's episode, "Pensacola" airing on Saturday at 7am ET on MotorTrend TV. Watch the full episode from "Pensacola" below: