Blue Angels show up, show off over Beaufort
By Mike McCombs
If you thought when MCAS Beaufort announced in February that the 2021 Air Show scheduled for Friday, April 24 and Saturday, April 25 was canceled that it meant you wouldn’t see the Blue Angels over Beaufort this year, you likely now know better.
Social media was abuzz Thursday afternoon as the Blue Angels flew low and fast around town. The Blue Angels then flew again Friday and Sunday afternoons, staying grounded Saturday because of rain.
Civilians were initially surprised, but those who work aboard MCAS Beaufort and their families were aware the Navy’s flight demonstration team would be in town to practice and perform their routines.
And it wasn’t a secret, really.
MCAS Beaufort had announced earlier in the week that the Blue Angels would be flying but made clear the demonstration, set to begin around 2:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, was not open to the public.
“The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will conduct flight training at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort to support flight currency and proficiency requirements. These training flights on MCAS Beaufort will not be open for public viewing. We appreciate the understanding of our surrounding community as we look forward to the 2023 MCAS Beaufort Air Show,” MCAS Beaufort said on Facebook.
“The U.S. Navy Blue Angels typically fly at more than 30 air show sites each year. With many 2020 and 2021 air show cancellations, MCAS Beaufort offers the U.S. Navy Blue Angels an opportunity to practice for future air shows, utilizing multiple environments under varying conditions.
“The safety of our community and service members remains the top priority. We request the public continue to abide by CDC social distancing guidelines, and not congregate to view the training. For questions, please call the Communication Strategy and Operations Office at 843-228-7225.”
Folks gathered wherever they could to watch and take pictures, while motorists tried hard to get a glimpse of the show above without crashing.
On Thursday afternoon, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office sent out a text asking citizens not to congregate on and near Highway 21 near MCAS Beaufort to watch the demonstration.
“For the safety of the public and motorists, those who wish to get a glimpse of the flight training from outside the military gates are advised not to park their vehicles along Trask Parkway (Highway 21) near the Marine Corps Air Station,” the Sherriff’s Office wrote.
The air show was canceled in order to protect the health of service members, their families and the members of the community, according to a news release at the time.
“The MCAS Beaufort Air show is a cherished event that allows the Air Station the opportunity to say thank you to our neighbors who support the men and women serving this nation. It is a difficult decision for me to cancel such a monumental event, but given the current COVID-19 environment it must be done,” MCAS Beaufort Commanding Officer Col. Karl Arbogast said in the February release.
The air show, which features military aircraft on display as well as aviation demonstrations by the Navy’s Blue Angels and other pilots, military and civilian, is free and usually attracts 100,000 spectators or more.
Mike McCombs is the editor of The Island News and can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com.
The Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Team was in town this past weekend in support of “flight currency and proficiency requirements” practice session, according to a statement released by the Public Affairs Office at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. Though the practice session was not open to the public, hundreds people parked in open fields across from MCAS Beaufort to watch. Photo by Bob Sofaly.