Blue Angels Pilots Give Readers A Behind The Scenes Look At New Jets, New Fat Albert

July 9, 2021

The Blue Angels will celebrate their 75th anniversary at the annual Pensacola Beach Air Show Friday and Saturday in their new F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets, and the new “Fat Albert” C-130J Super Hercules. had a close look at the new planes and a chance to learn what makes the Pensacola show extra special and exciting for the pilots.

“Almost can’t describe it,” Blue Angels pilot Cdr. Brian Kesselring said. He’s the “boss” as flight leader and pilot of the Number 1 aircraft.

“To be able to come back and be able to link to both Santa Rosa and Escambia County, the greater Pensacola area is super special to us. This truly is our family back here in this small community,” Kesselring said. “To be able to come out here and go to the beach … for the local community is going to be something that is just super special for us this year.

For a photo gallery, click here.

During a dress rehearsal Thursday, the new Fat Albert did not fly. The public will have to wait until Saturday’s show to see the new C-130 take to the skies over Pensacola Beach. (It was scheduled to fly Friday but did not due to a minor mechanical issue.)

But we had close look at Fat Albert Thursday at NAS Pensacola.

Fat Albert pilot Capt. Rick Rose will open the show Saturday. Here’s how Rose describes flying Fat Albert for readers:

Give us some background on bringing in the new C-130 last year.

“Awesome experience, we had to get pretty creative in acquiring this aircraft. We got it from the United Kingdom from the Royal Air Force. We picked it up last year — the team out there Marshall Air Space, the contracted company did a fantastic job getting this aircraft prepped and ready for us. It’s kind of like buying a used car. We did a test flight in it to make sure all the systems work appropriately as advertised. It worked flawlessly — got to fly it back through a couple fuel stops in Iceland as well as Maine and Ft Worth Texas where we did some final maintenance checks before we brought it back home where it belongs in Pensacola, Florida. It’s a new J Model super Hercules very exciting. Coupling that with the 75th anniversary, and the new super hornet. As a pilot flying this aircraft it’s pretty exciting and I’m pretty lucky.

What is this plane’s role in the show?

We are the main logistical support asset for the team so we haul all the maintenance pack up to include extra parts, tools, equip and most importantly the main. personnel that travel with us to ensure the jets are up for each show. It’s about a 49 person team that we can fit.

How many shows a year do you do?

We do around 30-35 show sites a year. Two to three airshows at each show site. Since we transitioned to the new super hornet, its little bit of a short air show schedule due to the fact to help us prepare for the transition rolling into it. We have a great support team that we gear up and ready to go.

Tell us about the hometown show

“Very exciting. It feels like a hometown to me. I have lived here for a while, went to flight school here so it really is like another hometown for me. I am from Northern California but Pensacola Florida will always be another hometown to me. Extremely exciting, especially having a year off last year, it’s a whole special feeling. Going back into especially flying over the water here at the beach. The people here are awesome. The community definitely deserves it and we are happy to help.”

How much maintenance do these planes require to consistently perform?

It does require a lot of maintenance. These planes are not brand-new, we are not given new jets off the assembly line. There is a lot of love and care you have to put into these jets to make them work right and well. It’s a no fail mission — the show must go on and we have a mission to do and there is a lot of pressure there to make it happen and they do an outstanding job.

Is there one part of the show that you are looking to the most?

I am a little bias — but Fat Albert for sure. It is awesome getting that plane back in the mix in front of people and being the Marine Corps representation on the team is a very special thing for me. I’m looking forward to the Fat Albert part and starting off the show and showing what this plane can do.

What is the most exhilarating move that you do?

The high performance climb to a pushover. It is a negative G pushover at the top. There is a few seconds there where you are weightless. That is the most fun because you are weightless for a few minutes in time. I look forward to it every time.

For a photo gallery, click here. photos, click to enlarge.


8 Responses to “Blue Angels Pilots Give Readers A Behind The Scenes Look At New Jets, New Fat Albert”

  1. Blue Happiness on July 10th, 2021 11:38 am

    @ Blue sadness
    How long have you lived there? Blues were probably flying well before you moved in. They have certain landmarks and waypoints that assist them in their maneuvers and it would be a bit harder I imagine if they were out over the water. Suck it up and enjoy the “sound of freedom”!

  2. Amy on July 10th, 2021 11:15 am

    The new Fat Albert looks so different naturally but I love the older model planes of the past for sure! What happened to the other one from last year and the year before? Are they used for so many years then retired type situation? What happened to the Fat Albert actually? Are they kept in their fleet to show at the museum or do they sell them? I love all vintage aircraft period. Love the Blue Angels. Have a great year ✈

  3. Blue sadness on July 10th, 2021 8:35 am

    I live across from the runway of NAS….the new jets are twice as loud as the old ones. The pilots fly a few hundred feet over my house–they shake the ground when they come over and even if we are in the house the noise is so loud you can’t hear anyone speak. I realize the Blues are loved by all however they should require them to practice over water in the gulf so folks who live in West Pensacola aren’t deafened by the outrageous decibels those jets produce. The noise is intolerable.

  4. Paul Hoffman on July 9th, 2021 5:45 pm

    I love the blue angel I have model of this planes

  5. Zita Kruczek on July 9th, 2021 10:23 am

    I have loved the Blue Angels all my life and have seen them perform many times! It is still a chilling experience and such a proud moment watching them perform each time! The pilots and crew are the best of the best and thrill each they perform. Thank you for your service to our Country, we are grateful and you make us proud to be Americans!

  6. Michael on July 9th, 2021 6:59 am

    As a teenager in 1969 I was in a local flying group, and we were able to meet the Blue Angels Team out at NAS Pensacola when they were flying the McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II. What an honor, one of the highlights my teen years.

    These ambassadors of the United States are an exemplary example of what makes this nation great, and they are a premier part of Pensacola’s rich Naval Aviation History.

    All Blue Angel Teams, and military aviators past and present, you are a cut above, and to all our service members past and present. Thank you all for your service and devotion to our country, God Bless you all…

  7. JTV on July 9th, 2021 5:32 am

    The Best in the World

  8. area resident on July 9th, 2021 5:02 am

    Wish they would practice a little over northwest Pensacola. We don’t do the beach crowd thing, but would love to see them once in a while.

Have a comment on this story?

We welcome your comments on this story, but there are some rules to follow::

(1) Be Nice. No comments that slander another, no racism, no sexism, no personal attacks.

(2) No Harrassing Comments. If someone says something bad about you, don't respond. That's childish.

(3) No Libel. That's saying something is not true about someone. Don't do it.

(4) Keep it clean. Nothing vulgar, obscene or sexually related. No profanity or obvious substitutions. Period.

(5) reserves the right to remove any comments that violate our rules or we think to be inappropriate. We are not responsible for what is posted. Comments may not appear right away until they are approved by a moderator.

(6) Limit your comments to the subject in this story only, and limit comments to 300 words or less. Do not post copyrighted material. Comments will not be added to stories that are over 30 days old.

(7) No posts may advertise a commercial business or political group, or link to another commercial web site or political site of any kind.