Blue Angels

Photo From The TimesUnion

Photo From The TimesUnion

As the men and women of the Jacksonville ROTC filtered in to the auditorium Friday morning, there were already individuals in clean pressed uniforms waiting on stage. These were the men and women who serve in our armed forces with the Blue Angels, the elite flight demonstration team of the United States Navy and Marines. They travel across the country performing for audiences at air shows, giving the public a glimpse into the maneuvers that not only the F18 soldiers fly, but also what the pilots are capable of. They perform to showcase the pride and professionalism of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to the country.

But there would be no flying over Jacksonville University that day, because the Angels have a second part to their mission. Community outreach in schools and hospitals is the reason that Lt. Mark Tedrow, also known as Angel 6 “the opposing solo,” spoke Oct. 25.

At the end of Tedrow’s freshman year, the Blue Angels flew over as he was walking down the street. That is where it all began, he said.

As he told students of the moments of inspiration that drove his life along, his experience in turn reflected on the audience.

Kevin Barth, a JU alumnus of airline management and flight operations, saw potential for students.

“Seminars like these help inspire students to reach for the stars and achieve what they have thought was unattainable,” Barth said.

More of the Lt.’s story unfolded as he recollected his career, slowly pacing back and forth across the stage.

“My friends sat me down and said if you want to be a Navy pilot, you can’t just be middle of the road,” Tedrow said. “You have to have really good grades and be competitive.”

Some students who attended were able to think about their futures and the importance of perseverance.

“It really gave me new perspective about my career,” said Kevin Carr, senior marine science major. “Just because you have achieved what you planned to do does not mean you will be able to take it easy. If anything, you will most likely have to push harder.”

The seminar was not just about school. At the end, they informed the crowed that Blue Angels do not wear G-suits so they can perform their maneuvers.

“They perform what’s called a Hick maneuver where they flex their leg muscles to force blood back to their brain,” Carr said. “That maneuver requires each of the pilots to be in great physical condition so they can withstand high G-forces.”

Two NROTC students volunteered to learn and perform the Hick maneuver.

Following their day at JU, the Blue Angels spent the weekend performing at the Naval Air Station Jacksonville’s 2014 NAS Jax Air Show, a brilliant two-days of pristinely polished blue and yellow aircraft thundering through the air with high precision and skill as close as fourteen inches.