It’s not just the Blues that perform at the Homecoming Show. Also flying this weekend is the AeroShell team. The team is made up of four T-6 propellor planes, the plane that back in World War II was the final test before pilots were ready for war. Friday, as airplanes showed off their maneuverability, they took some guests along for the ride, including the CW55’s Hayley Minogue.
The day started at NAS Pensacola, with four highly skilled pilots. They got me buckled in, taught me how to use the headset, and with that, we we’re off.
The AeroShell team flys 25 shows a year, but the Homecoming Show is special to them.
“It’s a classic event,” said Gene McNeely, who flew me in his plane. “The Blue Angels are top dogs.”
McNeely is a Navy veteran, who began his career as a pilot decades ago. He says over the headset, “Hold on!” and before I even have time to prepare, were headed into a loop. Then, straight into a barrel roll. It’s a maneuver similar to what the Blue Angels do, except they’re in jets. We’re in a single propellor plane.
“We’re almost there, but we’re… We don’t compete with those big boys,” McNeely said with a chuckle.
Next, we glided over the beautiful beaches of Pensacola. Just as quick as take off, they land. Nice and smooth.
Once we’re on the ground, McNeely talks about the men and women who serve our country.
“We’re so grateful for them,” he said. “We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for our military. They’re awesome people. I got to serve in the Navy and I wouldn’t take anything for that.”
The way four g’s feel, and the way Pensacola looks from thousands of feet in the sky, is something Hayley won’t soon forget.