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Blue Angels to perform at Westmoreland air shows

| Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, 10:33 a.m.
Five of the Navy's Blue Angels pass an American flag during the Westmoreland County Air Show on Saturday, June 23, 2012, at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity.
Blue Angels fly wing-to-wing during the Westmoreland County Air Show on Saturday, June 23, 2012, at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity.

When visitors to the Westmoreland County Air Show look up at the sky over Unity in the next two summers, they'll see familiar streaks of blue.

The Blue Angels, the Navy's precision jet team, are confirmed for the 2014 and 2015 air shows at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport.

“They're the top of the line, you cant's get any better than that,” said Gabe Monzo, executive director of the authority.

The demonstration team last performed at the air show in 2012 for a crowd of about 75,000 during the two-day event.

“That's pretty exciting, getting them for back-to-back years,” said Monzo, who got confirmation last week at the International Air Show Convention in Las Vegas.

The Blue Angels have 16 Navy officers who fly six Boeing F/A-18 Hornet and the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules in formation during performances.

The pilots' schedule includes 68 performances at 35 locations in 2014 and 64 performances at 34 locations in 2015, according to a news release.

The team was scheduled to perform at Wings Over Pittsburgh next year but announced schedule changes on Dec. 3 when the Pittsburgh event was canceled.

Monzo said the Blue Angels approached officials at the Unity airport.

“It's a good condition of being at the right place at the right time,” he said.

Amber Lynn Daniel, public affairs officer for the Blue Angels, said the team wanted to perform in the area.

“This was a great opportunity to stay in the area,” she said. “The more Navy presence we have there, the better.”

The 2014 Westmoreland County Air Show is scheduled for June 7-8. In 2015, the show is tentatively scheduled for June 20-21, Monzo said.

The airport authority canceled the 2013 show when the Air Force ended public performances for the year as a result of the federal budget sequester.

Before 2012, the Blue Angels appeared at the air show in 1998. Westmoreland then went a decade between 2001 and 2011 without the popular event that typically features stunt planes, biplanes, vintage planes and aerial demonstrations.

It costs about $300,000 to organize the air show, and attendance is dependent on a centerpiece military performance and good weather, officials said, adding that the event is more of a community outreach and open house for the airport than a money-maker.

Pittsburgh Navy Week, scheduled concurrently with Wings Over Pittsburgh, will go on as planned without the Blue Angels performance, said Gary Ross, public affairs officer for the Navy Office of Community Outreach, which organizes Navy Week events throughout the country.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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