The Blue Angels are returning to Annapolis for their annual demonstration during the United States Naval Academy graduation and Commissioning Week festivities. The air show will be led by a former Navy men’s lacrosse player and the first female pilot to fly with the squadron.
Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Zimmerman, a former Owings Mills resident, is one of the four pilots that have been selected for the 2023 show season. He graduated from the academy in 2009 and is assigned to the “Red Rippers” of Strike Fighter Squadron 11. Zimmerman will be flying with the squadron’s first female flying ace, Lt. Amanda Lee of Mounds View, Minnesota. She is assigned to the “Gladiators” of Strike Fighter Squadron 106.
The Tuesday rehearsal and Wednesday performance are slated for a 2 p.m. start, depending on the weather. The graduation and commissioning ceremony for the Class of 2023 will take place on Friday at 10 a.m. at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Rowe Boulevard in Annapolis. The Blue Angels will perform a flyover at approximately 10:04 a.m., culminating more than a week of activities, including the Sea Trials, Herndon Climb and other traditions.
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The demonstration over the Naval Academy is one of the few annual events the squadron completes during their tour each year.
Best places to watch the Blue Angels
The Blue Angels show draws thousands of spectators each year, including Naval Academy students, friends and family who are in Annapolis to attend the graduation ceremony.
The prestigious pilot group also attracts locals who travel to Annapolis or play hooky from work or school or to lay claim to the best spots to view the precision acrobatics of the F/A-18 Hornet pilots.
Public spaces along the banks of the Severn River, such as the area surrounding the Naval Academy Bridge and World War II Memorial, are sought-after vantage points. The areas around City Dock and Spa Creek are popular, too.
For approved guests, the academy’s Ingram Field and parts of Farragut Field and Hospital Point might be the best locations of all.
It also helps to know somebody to get a choice view from a rooftop in the city, aboard a boat, or on a sprawling lawn along the Severn.
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Those traveling by boat are advised to pay close attention to markers that delineate exclusionary zones and temporary channels marked by red and green buoys. Public safety boats will be out. Boaters are advised to follow instructions promptly.
The Annapolis Harbormaster operates on VHF 17. The area of Spa Creek and the Severn River will be patrolled by the U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Natural Resources Police, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Annapolis Harbormaster, Annapolis Police and Annapolis Fire Rescue boats.
Navigating Annapolis during Commissioning Week
Annapolis is gearing up for an influx of visitors as family and friends of the Class of 2023 come to participate in Commissioning Week activities and attend the graduation ceremony on Friday. The event is expected to draw thousands of people to the city.
Residents and visitors should expect heavy traffic, temporary road and bridge closures, parking limitations, maritime traffic restrictions and increased security in the downtown area.
The Evening Sun
On Tuesday, the Route 450 (Naval Academy) bridge will be closed between 10:45 a.m. and approximately 3:45 p.m. for the Blue Angels flyover rehearsal.
The bridge will close again on Wednesday, from approximately 1:45 p.m. until approximately 4 p.m. for the Blue Angels flight demonstration.
Parking at Gott’s Garage can be reserved in advance by visiting annapolisparking.com. There will be strict enforcement of metered parking, two-hour limited spaces, residential permit zones and red zones.
Visitors are encouraged to park at Knighton Garage, at the corner of Colonial Avenue and West Street, and Park Place, just off of West Street and Spa Road, and take the free downtown shuttle.
On Friday, there will be no state employee parking at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium lot. The parking lot will be reserved for graduation attendees.
City and state employees who normally park at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium are advised to use the Calvert Street Garage.
To view the complete schedule for all activities being hosted during Commissioning Week visit https://www.usna.edu/CommissioningWeek.