The Blue Angels are preparing to take to the skies over Pensacola Beach this weekend, but before their practice Thursday, the Lead Solo pilot spoke to CW55 Reporter Hayley Minogue. LT Ryan Chamberlain talked about many things, including the past, present and future of the Blues.
It’s been a tough year for the Blue Angels. Lead Solo LT Chamberlain said he spent a few days with friends and family only after the death of Captain Jeff Kuss during a practice in Tennessee just last month. After a few days, though, it was time to get back to the skies.
“I knew Jeff, obviously, very well,” Lt Chamberlain began. “The fact that he was my wing man… and he is not one of those people that would just want us to just sit down and not continue our mission. Our mission is so important, but more important than any one individual.”
This week, the new opposing solo, Commander Frank Weisser, was announced. He served as a Blue Angel from 2008-2010. In a surprise we learned just Thursday afternoon, Commander Weisser joined LT Chamberlain in a two seat F/A-18 Hornet during practice.
“It’s obviously very bittersweet to have him back, but he and I do have a history,” LT Chamberlain said. “Over the course of the next two or three weeks, he’s actually here right now in town this week to observe– he’ll fly with me today as a matter of fact, and then he’ll start his training pipeline and get current back in the Hornet, as well as do the necessary safety measures.”
As one pilot prepares to begin, LT Chamberlain is nearing the end of his time as a Blue Angel. This is his last Pensacola Beach Air Show.
“When number 6 isn’t around, I actually get to do two sneak passes,” LT Chamberlain said as he smiled. “I won’t tell you when those are going to be, because those are part of the show, but those are by far the absolute most fun I get to have throughout the performance.”
The Blues will hold Dress Rehearsal on Friday afternoon, then on Saturday, the Air Show will begin at noon, with the Blue Angels in the sky at 2.