HAVELOCK, N.C. (WNCT) – Despite performances being canceled or modified due to low cloud clearance, the Cherry Point Air Show drew a record turnout, as more than 200,000 people came out during the three-day show and open house.
“We promised that it would be a show worth seeing,” said Col. Chris Pappas, Cherry Point’s commanding officer Monday. “Even with rain predicted for Sunday, it was impressive to see that Sunday this year beat out Saturday at our last show.”
Saturday drew the most people with 95,000 attendees being recorded. Friday night also did well, with nearly 60,000 visitors that came to watch multiple air and ground displays of dazzling pyrotechniques and a fireworks finale.
The next air show is scheduled for 2018.Previous on 4/29/16
The largest air show in the east is underway at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.
One of the biggest hits of the weekend, the Blue Angels.
The fleet of six Blue Angels arrived this week to practice their aerobatic routines to show off to record-breaking spectators. The Angels, originally based out of Pensacola Florida are headlining this weekend’s air show.
It is just the beginning of a rigorous flight season for the group, consisting of training six days a week.
“Eat, sleep and breathe flying,” said Executive Officer of the Angels, Ben Flynn.
Many of the pilots only serve two or three years with the Angels before returning back to typical military fleet operations. Pilots said spectators can expect to be on the edge of their seats.
“You’ll see everything from close formation flights to high speed opposing maneuvers by our solos,” Flynn said, adding that the most rewarding part of the job is more than just taking his skills to the sky. “You know those little kids out there and really people of all ages that like what we do, to see that and know that maybe you’re making a small difference that really is what is the best thing about this job.”
WNCT’s Jacqueline Matter got an inside look after taking a flight with the Blue Angels on Friday.
Not far behind the Angels you’ll find their “right-hand man” Fat Albert. Its main mission, to provide tactical support to the Blue Angels jets carrying cargo, personnel and fuel.
Pilot Mark Montgomery said Fat Albert flies with ease.
“It’s a big wig, it’s got four engines but she is nimble. The hydraulic system control she flies like a small plane a lot of the time,” said Montgomery.
Its second mission is to showcase the capabilities of a C-130 including turns and nose dives.
“Anything the fleet does we do it a little lower and closer to the crowd so it looks better,” Montgomery added.
While WNCT was able to get a first-hand look at how fat Albert flies, so did nearly 30 Marines who were hand-selected by their commanders as being “the best of the best” in their unit, granting them the opportunity to take a ride.
“I’ve never been sideways, vertical in a plane so and seeing it go by faster than you can process it really and seeing people’s faces in there was quite entertaining as well,” said Corporal Ryan Sargent who was selected for the ride.
This Fat Albert jet has been in commission since 1991 and on Friday’s flight, folks travelled up to 1500 feet in the air at speeds near 380 miles per hour pulling two G’s while turning.
All three pilots of Fat Albert were previously stationed at Cherry Point making this air show just a little bit sweeter.
For Montgomery, flying with the Blue Angels this year is a new venture.
“This is actually my first year, I just started in September so this is my first show season and each weekend seems to get better than the one before,” he said.
The air show will continue this Saturday and Sunday and will feature numerous aerobatic acts, as well as a concert Saturday evening.
The event is free to the public.
To live stream the air show click here.