By Ross Guidotti

LATROBE, Pa. (KDKA) – After COVID canceled last year’s Shop ‘N Save Westmoreland County Airshow, everything is on for this year with special guest stars, the Navy’s Blue Angels.

There was nothing subtle about the Navy’s Blue Angels’ return to the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe Thursday.

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The Navy’s flight demonstration team’s six F-18 Super Hornets roared overhead then touched down. The combat-proven naval aviators, their world-famous blue and gold jets and top-of-the line maintainers are the stars of this year’s airshow. What these crews do to prepare these aircraft and what the sailors and Marines in the cockpit pull off is nothing short of mind-boggling.

Blue Angels’ Aircraft #2 Crew Chief Destiny Berthoud tells KDKA’s Ross Guidotti, “We’re by the book. We always re-check, check. It’s not like we check the aircraft one time and say, ‘ok sir it’s good to go.'”

Blue Angels pilot Lt. Cmdr. James Haley, who was inspired to fly at the age of 8, says the team is flying a new plane, the F-18 Super Hornet. Big, close, and very fast best describe the team’s world-famous precision flight demonstration’s scale and scope. Haley says the new fighter has “about a 40-foot wingspan and is 16 feet tall. In the diamond, closest set, we fly a few inches apart.”

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“The fastest we’ll go with the flight demonstration is the number 5 jet, and he just must be sub-sonic,” he said.

That means just below 761 miles an hour.

And while it’s not a job for the faint of heart, for Berthoud and Haley, it beats the 9 to 5 grind.

“I think you can tell by the smile on my face that I love my job.”

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The airshow runs Saturday, and SundayYou can learn more about the airshow here.