PENSACOLA, Fla. (WALA) - The Blue Angels have been thrilling audiences for years but budget cuts due to sequestration grounded the team throughout 2013.
The cuts halted any hope for a Pensacola Beach Air Show or Homecoming Air Show aboard NAS Pensacola.
The Blues are gathering for a renewed 2014 season that aims to see them soaring through the skies once again.
Blues Commander Tom Frosch said he was notified that his team was fully funded for 2014 on Monday, October 21.
"The social media rumors started over the weekend. On Monday morning, we had headquarters in the hangar and officially told everyone we were funded for a full season and we’d have to start preparing. Everyone was really excited. There was excitement throughout the command,” said Cmdr. Frosch.
The Blues are set to perform 65 shows at 34 locations throughout the country. They will start in El Centro, California in March and return home for the Pensacola Beach and Homecoming Air Shows.
Frosch said the team took the opportunity away from their usual death defying stunts to do community outreach within Pensacola.
"It’s not what we planned on but it was a unique opportunity to find a silver lining. We were able to focus our attention on the community and strengthen the bonds we already had with Pensacola,” Cmdr. Frosch said.
Commander Frosch said they’ve made the most of their downtime as each pilot has been allowed to fly 11 hours a month. However, he said there’s no substituting the six days a week flight time they’re allowed when fully funded,”
Although 2013’s season began fully funded as well, Frosch said he’s confident they’ll be able to finish the year.
“We need to get ourselves geared towards that operational tempo again. It’s a walk-run mindset. We’ll come out of the gate with a methodical attempt in our training," said Cmdr. Frosch, "It’s real exciting to be out there representing sailors and marines around the world. So to get the opportunity to do that again is special and profound."
The Pentagon spends $37 million annually for the Blue Angels, whose mission is to enhance recruiting for the Navy and Marines and to be their public goodwill ambassador.
To find out about the Blue Angels' full 2014 schedule click here.
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