You’ve heard by now about the Blue Angels taking to the skies this Veteran’s Day weekend for the Homecoming Air Show.
Did you know they aren’t the only elite team of pilots who will be helping celebrate the 70th year anniversary season? The F-16 Demonstration and Heritage team landed at NAS Pensacola Wednesday afternoon to prepare for the weekend’s activities.
All eyes were on the runway as the ground team waited for two F-16’s to land at NAS Pensacola. They were on their way from Shaw Airforce Base in South Carolina, ready for a demonstration weekend with the Blue Angels. First, we heard them. Then, seconds later, we saw them. The two jets did a short pass by, then landed behind the trees, and taxied over to where we were waiting.
When the pilots got our of the jets, Major Craig Baker, call sign ‘Rocket’, the Demo Pilot, spoke with us about the Air Show.
“Honored to be here for that, but also just psyched for my last show,” Maj Baker said of the opportunity to fly in Pensacola. “Mixed emotions,” he continued. “I put a lot of heart and soul into flying for the air force and I put a lot of heart and soul into flying for the airshows… To see that part of my career come to an end is bittersweet for sure.”
As we talked, it was hard to ignore the blue and yellow sticker next to the cockpit of the F-16.
“We stick together in the military,” Maj Baker said. “We work together and we stick together. So when my brothers and sisters in blue had a tough go, we wanted to honor them and honor Captain Kuss with that was as well.”
This is a one jet demonstration team, and after Maj Baker finishes showing the F-16 capabilities, he’ll join in what’s called The Heritage Flight, flying alongside World War II-era P-51 Mustangs.
“I’ll rejoin, and really slow the airplane down and try to be smooth as I can,” Maj Baker said. “I’ll fly within three feet of that priceless warbird, and really, as a visual representation of the air force’s history and past and present, as well as a way to honor those who’ve gone before us.”
It’s a Veteran’s Day tribute you won’t want to miss.
A fun fact about this team: These F-16’s could be combat ready in about six hours if they needed to be sent into battle.
The Air Show is Friday and Saturday this week. Gates at 8 a.m. both days.